The inspiration for this slaw is a mango salad I order way too often from a local Thai place in hopes to offset the inevitable damage from the pad Thai I order with it. It has strips of mango, slivers of red pepper, red onion and mint, large toasted cashews and a spicy dressing with a lot of lime in it. It’s always a surprise; sometimes the mango is underripe and sour (which I understand to be more traditional) and sometimes it’s sweet and almost overripe. The best part is that the salad tastes good no matter how the mango arrived that day.
Of course, being me, I had to slaw it. Because that’s what I do, you know? Broccoli! Green onion! Better than old-school and dead simple! Tartar sauce slaw, pickled slaw and three more where that came from. I mean, salads are great but crunchy slaws that you pile on a burger or alongside anything grilled are the best heat wave antidote and this is my favorite one in a long time. It manages to be both sweet (my mangoes were very ripe) and sour, packing a little heat in the background and it was an incredibly refreshing change from the creamy dressing hegemony.
Especially when it 100 degrees outside. Oh man, I got all the way to paragraph three before bringing up that thing I don’t like to discuss: the weather. Other things I don’t like to do: complain about the weather. Have conversations that are only about how awful the air outside is. But there’s been, like, this heat wave thing and it has been brutal. It’s totally frizzing the baby’s hair, too; he does not appreciate it one bit. Anyway, a crunch/cold/sweet/tangy/spicy slaw is made for times like this, when you’re trying to cool off with something other than ice cream. What? I know, I’m talking crazy. It must be the heat getting to me.
Mango Slaw with Cashews and Mint
2 mangoes, peeled, pitted and julienned
1 to 1 1/4 pounds Napa cabbage, halved and sliced very thinly
1 red pepper, julienned
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, from about two limes
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons oil of your choice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste (or omit this and whisk in a chile paste to taste)
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup toasted cashews, coarsely chopped
Toss mangoes, cabbage, pepper and onion in a large bowl. Whisk lime juice, vinegar, oil, salt and red pepper in a smaller bowl and pour over slaw. You can either serve this immediately or leave the flavors to muddle for an hour in the fridge. Before serving, toss with mint leaves and sprinkle with cashews.
About your mango: This salad will work with almost any variety or ripeness of mango, whether sour or sweet. Use the one you can get, or that you enjoy the most. In general, a firmish not overly ripe mango (unlike the very ripe, sweet one I used) holds up best but all will be delicious in this salad.