This salad will blow you away with its tastebud-awakening flavors and mixture of textures. And as a bonus, it is very healthy, plus low in calories and fat. Enjoy it as a complete meal by adding cooked shrimp, chicken, or deep-fried tofu if you are vegetarian. Any way you toss it, this fresh-tasting salad will be sure to win rave reviews from all your culinary fans!
- Salad Dressing:
- 3 tbsp. fish sauce (or 4 tbsp. soy sauce)
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar (or more to taste)
- 1 to 2 tsp. Thai chili sauce (or substitute 1/3 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili (chili flakes))
- 1/4 cup dry shredded unsweetened coconut (the kind you use for baking)
- 2 firm, unripened mangoes (mangoes may be green or red-orange in color)
- 2 cups bean sprouts
- 1/2 cup fresh coriander (aka cilantro, chopped)
- 3 to 4 spring onions (sliced)
- Optional: 1 cup cooked chicken (or shrimp, or fried tofu, cut into small cubes)
- Optional: 1 fresh-cut red chili
- A handful of peanuts (or cashews, left whole or roughly chopped)
- 1/3 cup fresh basil
Gather the ingredients.
Mix together all the salad dressing ingredients in a bowl or cup. The dressing should be a mingling of sweet, sour, spicy and salty, but more sweet than sour. Set aside.
Place coconut in a dry frying pan or wok. "Dry-fry" the coconut, as if you were stir-frying it, 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat, or until it turns a light golden-brown and is fragrant. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
Using a sharp pairing knife, peel the skin from mangoes. The flesh of the mango should be firm and light yellow-orange.
Using a medium to large-size grater (the kind you would use for cabbage salad), grate the flesh of the mangoes into a mixing bowl. Keep in mind there is a large flat stone at the mango's center.
Add the bean sprouts, coriander, spring onions, cooked chicken, shrimp or tofu (if using), the fresh-cut chili (if using), plus half the toasted coconut. Toss well to combine.
Add the dressing and toss again. Do a taste-test--add more fish sauce or soy sauce instead of salt if needed. If you prefer it sweeter, add a little more sugar (honey works too). If you prefer more spice, add more chili sauce. If too salty or sweet, add more lime juice.
Place on a serving platter. Sprinkle the nuts, basil and remaining toasted coconut over the top.
Make Ahead Tip
To make this salad for a party, grate the mango ahead of time and place in a covered container in the refrigerator. Also, toast the coconut, prepare the dressing, and have the rest of the ingredients close at hand. Then when your guests arrive, simply put together, toss and serve!