For the first time in weeks, my brain was full of ideas on what to write about. I had desserts, potatoes, a pork dish, pasta; I mean I had almost every base covered.
Of course, as usual, nothing goes as planned. I was running some of my ideas past Laura, whom happens to work at the gas pump where I rent boats and jet skis, and she wanted to know if I had any ideas for using up some fennel, hot peppers and fruit. I definitely had some ideas for salads and side dishes and asked what her main dish would be. The answer came back as: “Anything fish.” I let her look through the book of recipes I’ve had since my apprenticeship program and as soon as she came across this particular mango salsa, she insisted this had to be the recipe of the week.
This recipe, as with most, is easy to substitute different ingredients, as well as quantities of the ingredients you choose. I happened to add three ingredients to the recipe that were not in the written version she saw in my notes, while also omitting one. The three ingredients I added to the original recipe are garlic, cucumber and cilantro because as a salsa, I happen to like garlic and cilantro, and I had a cucumber to use, and I know from past experience that cucumber goes great in this salsa. The ingredient I omitted was grapefruit. Although I do like using grapefruit sometimes, I think for my taste, there are enough acidic ingredients without it. If I do add grapefruit, I definitely like ruby reds because they are naturally sweeter so the acidic taste isn’t as harsh.
I have used this salsa for a variety of seafood dishes, as well as with pork and chicken. The fennel really adds a nice crunch, besides its distinct licorice flavor, and the cucumber is awesome at cutting a little of the Serrano pepper’s heat, as well as adding its own light, crisp taste, so if you want the original version, omit those three things. As always, this will give you a great starting point, but feel free to add or subtract ingredients as your taste buds dictate.
Now, I really hope I can still remember some of my other ideas come next week. Enjoy.
4 mangos, medium diced
½ red pepper, small to medium diced, but a little smaller than the mango
½ red onion, small diced
2 cloves garlic, small diced
½ fennel bulb, small diced
1 Serrano pepper, small diced (with seeds for more heat)
1 orange, peeled, seeded & sections cut in half (or half about 12-14 Dole mandarin segments)
2 limes, 1 prepared the same as the orange & the other for juicing
2 T sundried cherries
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
3 T rice vinegar
3 T extra virgin olive oil
¼ t salt
Black pepper to taste
Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
Trained under Master Chef Anton Flory at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vt., Smitty is a personal chef specializing in dinner parties, cooking classes and special events. For more information and archived copies of Stir it Up, visit chefsmitty.com. Smitty welcomes your questions and comments at [email protected] or (530) 412-3598.