Vietnamese Chili Salt: An Exotic Flavor Enhancer for Fruit
Muối ớt is a popular seasoning in Vietnam. If you've been to Asia, you've probably noticed street vendors at every corner, selling fruits accompanied by chili salt packets.
Salt brings out the flavor of the fruit and enhances its sweetness. Vietnamese foods call for chile in almost everything and eating fruits with chile is no exception. It's currently green mango season, and green mangoes with chili salt is a refreshing starter for a hot summer meal. You can also serve it as a salad; check the tips section for the recipe. It's called gỏi xoài in Vietnamese.
We've been gorging ourselves on mounds of this delicious fruit. It's very good by itself, but I always add a pinch of chili salt to liven up the flavor. Try chili salt with fruits such as Granny Smith apples, plums or oranges. I guarantee you'll never go back!
Yields: 61 part salt
2 parts sugar
red Thai bird chiles, to taste
drops lime juice
3 green mangoes
Wash and stem the Thai bird chiles. Pat them dry with a paper towel. Depending on how you can tolerate the heat, remove and discard the seeds from the chiles. The seeds are attached to a ribbed membrane which where most of the heat of the pepper is. Finely chop them.
In a mortar and pestle, combine the sugar, salt and red chiles. Drizzle a few drops of lime juice and I macerate for a few hours. The salt will turn a pinkish color.
Peel and cut the mango into long pieces. Dip the mango into the salt and enjoy!
Dipping fruits in chili salt is a great snack, but you can also serve green mangoes with the chili salt seasoning as a salad. Just toss in some pickled carrots and daikon radishes, green onions and thinly sliced celery. Add a little crab meat or grilled shrimp if you like and sprinkle a little nước mắm (fish sauce) or nước chấm for vegetarians. It's delicious.
I use good quality sea salt that has a significant moisture content. It has a sharp, piquant and briny aroma and doesn't taste as harsh as regular table salt. This type of salt is perfect for dipping fruit.
I use unrefined loose cane sugar for the golden color it adds to the seasoning and of course for its strong aroma. Look for rapadura sugar in your specialty store.
This summer, Lulu planted some killer-hot red Thai bird chiles. Don't get fooled by the size. These chiles pack a punch! Taste the chile before adding to the seasoning salt to be able to control the level of heat of the chili salt.
How to choose a green mango? Green mango is a seasonal fruit. When picking it at the store, choose one that is plump and quite heavy for its size. Bring the fruit close to your nose; it should smell fragrant. The color should be dark green with a few shades of red. And of course, the mango should feel hard to the touch. I like to ripen the mango for about a day in a paper bag at room temperature before consuming it to get the peak of balanced tartness and sweetness. If the mango has a lot of red blemishes, which is a sign of ripeness, store the mango in the refrigerator to prevent the fruit from ripening more.
You can also pickle green mango with sea salt, sugar, chiles and other ingredients. It's an Indian condiment called achar, but that's another recipe.
Published By: on September 1, 2009.