Thai green mango salad combines the tartness of unripe mango with the sweetness of the dressing made with coconut cream, chili, garlic and palm sugar.
Tart and sweet are tempered with salty and umami courtesy of a little fermented shrimp paste. Then, you add depth and color. Scallions, shallots and cooked shrimps (or pork or chicken) are thrown in.
But yun ma muang, as it is called in Thailand, is more than about beautiful flavors. The texture heightens the delight even more. Crushed peanuts, fried shallots and toasted coconut go into the salad too.
So, yes, Thai green mango salad is aromatic and tasty, and texturally rich. Alex and I learned to make it at a cooking class in Chiang Mai. When we were given the handout and I discovered that green mango salad was on the list of dishes we would make, I wasn’t even sure I was going to eat it.
Green mango salad with shrimp paste is ubiquitous in the Philippines but I never touched the stuff. The Filipino version is always drowning in shrimp paste, the aroma is too strong, and I’ve never been particularly attracted to the flavors. Appreciation for it is, I suppose, an acquired taste.
But shrimp paste in Thai green mango salad is used sparingly. In fact, unless you have an ultra-sensitive nose, you probably won’t know it’s there. The first sensation you get is the creaminess and sweetness of the coconut cream. As your teeth start to grind the green mango and fresh shallots, the tartness mixes with the sweetness, and the sharpness of the shallots jolts the taste buds. Then, the the shrimps, peanuts, scallions, toasted coconut and fried shallots blend it, and it’s like the flavors and textures are happily dancing in perfect harmomy in your mouth.
I can get even more poetic but, what the heck… Here’s the recipe.
Thai Green Mango Salad (Yum Ma Muang)
For the dressing
- With a mortar and pestle (or a mini food processor), grind the chili and garlic with the shrimp paste.
- Scrape the ground ingredients into a bowl. Stir in the palm sugar, fish sauce and coconut cream until the sugar is dissolved.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss the green mango, fresh shallots, scallions and cooked shrimps to distribute evenly.
- Stir the salad dressing before drizzling over the mango mixture. Toss well.
- Divide the salad among four bowls (or serve in a large salad bowl, if you prefer) and top with the fried shallots, peanuts and toasted coconut.
If you cooked this dish (or made this drink) and you want to share your masterpiece, please use your own photos and write the cooking steps in your own words.