My allegiance had originally been for the Indian Alphonso mango, but a ripe Mexican Ataulfo was a more economical standby that had a longer season.
While travelling in Morocco, I met a cute British couple that originally hailed from Pakistan. They urged me to try Pakistani mangoes, as they were even better than those from India (is there always such fierce rivalry between India and Pakistan?). To be honest, I had never even seen Pakistani mangoes, but I knew that Bestwin routinely carried an assortment of mangoes, many of which I hadn’t yet tried.
Last week, my co-worker, again, urged me to try Pakistani mangoes. They are nearing the end of the season and she assured me I wouldn’t be disappointed.
As it turned out, when I did my weekly trip to Sunny’s, they had small cases of honey mangoes (chok anon) from Pakistan. Just like Alphonso mangoes, they are definitely a splurge purchase.
Let me assure you, though, that these are some nice mangoes. Creamy and sweet, yet with a subtle tanginess, that mellows the sweetness. They didn’t seem to have as much stringiness near the pit, either.
Personally, I am content with any ripe mango, but I may concede that Pakistani mangoes reign in my kitchen. It is that tanginess that I appreciated the most, adding that extra level of complexity. I may no longer have that sweet tooth I used to, it seems, although these are still uber sweet mangoes. Enjoy them unadorned, or use them in a salad such as this (any ripe, sweet mango will do, though).
The original salad with eggplant, mango and soba noodles is compliments of Ottolenghi, but I took it in my own direction. Instead of pan-frying the eggplant in gobs of oil,
I Rob offered to grill it on the barbecue (alongside his perogies, at that!). This allowed me to use much less oil, with the addition of a soft smokiness to the dish. Some grilled asparagus was thrown in as well, for good measure. To make this a more substantial dish, I took Ottolenghi’s advice to add fried tofu, which I had marinated briefly in ponzu sauce and sesame oil. I also opted to use half of the sweet-chili dressing, since it seemed like a lot. And finally, while soba noodles would be lovely, I chose to spiralize two zucchinis as my noodle base. Don’t worry, I left the mango in there, and even used 2 honey mangos for the dish. ;)
The result was a wonderful merriment of flavours. You have the grilled, creamy, smoky eggplant pairing beautifully with the sweet, tangy mango with a slightly spicy sauce, all overtop zucchini noodles. The tofu added a nice, satisfying crunch.
This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays, to this week’s Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Honeybee of The Life & Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybee, to this month’s Healing Foods featuring zucchini, and to Ricki’s Summer Wellness Weekends and to this month’s Simple and in Season.
Grilled Eggplant and Mango Noodle Salad with a Sweet Chili Dressing
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp agave or honey
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
1 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
zest and juice from 1 lime
340g extra firm tofu, cubed
1 tbsp soy sauce or ponzu sauce (I used the latter but not sure it made a difference)
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
3/4 lb Asian eggplant (around 2), sliced lengthwise into 1.5-cm strips
3/4 lb asparagus, trimmed
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced, soaked in water for at least 10 minutes, then drained
1 large or 2 small mangoes, cubed
40g basil, chopped (large bunch)
40g cilantro, chopped (small bunch)
2 zucchini, spiralized into noodles (or use 8oz soba noodles)
1. Combine the rice vinegar, agave, salt, garlic, chili flakes, toasted sesame oil, lime zest and juice. Stir and set aside.
2. Marinate your cubed tofu with the soy sauce and toasted sesame oil for 5 minutes or so. When ready, add tofu to a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat and cook until nicely brown on most sides. This could take 10-15 minutes. Stir often towards the end. Set side.
3. If you had big eggplants, definitely salt your eggplant for 30 minutes or so. The smaller Asian ones don’t need it. If salting, after salting, rinse off the salt and drain off excess water. Drizzle with a bit of oil and grill on BBQ for roughly 5 minutes on each side, until nice and soft. Chop into chunks when slightly cooled.
4. Drizzle asparagus with a bit of oil, salt and pepper and grill on BBQ for roughly 5-10 minutes, until tender but still al dente. Chop into 2-cm chunks when cooled.
5. To assemble the salad, toss together the grilled eggplant and asparagus, onion, mango, basil, cilantro and the dressing. Spoon overtop the zucchini noodles and top with the pan-fried tofu. Keep the tofu separate until serving, else it will become soggy.