I love mangoes. Just love them! Don’t you? Too bad we (Cubans) can’t take credit for them, though I’m sure some old 75 year old in Miami has a good argument for the uber sweet fruit really hailing from the tropical island. I’m sure of it. There is a lot we want to take credit for. A LOT. I mean, if my mother can recount a story of climbing a neighbor’s tree to steal mangoes to suck on when she was only 14, then surely, there’s truth to mangoes being everywhere and coveted throughout the Caribbean. But, I’m sorry to say to my fellow Cubans, and any other Latin group taking ownership of the bright orange fruit, that it’s not ours. Nowhere near. In fact, it belongs to India. Don’t you just love that. But if you’re reading my blog, you probably already knew it.
I establish that little factoid only to bring together this mango-themed dish I’ve been making for my LivingSocial hands-on cooking class series in D.C. I start with a bright yet smooth mango purée to act as the creamy foundation to a grilled, or really seared herbed salmon, which is then topped with an even brighter fruit relish using avocado, which is a Latin fruit! And served with black quinoa.
As I was developing this recipe earlier this year for LS, I thought about how awesome it’d be to infuse flavors I love eating at home, but also teach the eager students how to play with other ingredients not so akin to the Cuban or Latin kitchen….like shallots.
Though the use of mangos and shallots doesn’t necessarily qualify this meal as Latin, the way I seasoned the salmon is… at least in my kitchen.
If you want a super simple, easy, and perfectly tasting seasoning trio you’ll use as your default, then try a simple triage of minced garlic, sliced onions, and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice. I do that for chicken breasts and steak whenever I’m in a hurry but need to eat something good. Or if a friend shows up unannounced and I want to lear them into coming back for a proper sit down. I let it marinate for about an hour and then get to searing. Or grilling.
It works every time. Bona fide amazing. So I did it with the wild Alaskan salmon we’ve been cooking in class. Only I add some fresh oregano. Just to switch it up a bit. And that works, too.
I just wrapped my 9th class at LivingSocial and all have been a complete riot! Last night, a small class of 18, was probably the most satisfying. Most of the students were 1st time cooks, not having much experience at home so it was a perfect platform to teach them some techniques… Like scoring a mango! And deviate to tell stories of how I got started in la cocina and how I’ve since ventured out from classic Cuban. Other classes have been pure hilarity with some elated ones coming with wine in hand. Those make for good conversation pieces.
Oh, I divert. Back to the mango. After cutting vertical and horizontal lines, it should like this (above)…like a pretty rubik cube. Some get it, some don’t. But it’s all good fun trying to get them to figure it out!
Ultimately, the 3 layered main course turns out to be a smash it of really pretty colors, bold and subtle flavors, and simple plating. The point is to introduce them to lovely food they can make at home if they’re just getting started… or if they really want to impress their significant other.
One particular couple in class last night had such a great time, they shared this lovely collage on Instagram…. you know… to make their friends jelly for not coming out with them!
(Fun attendees Erin and her man Nick capturing every step, via their own Instagram)
So while the mango is the star in our main course we do finish off with a magical sea salted caramel espresso flan. And so the class is appropriately dubbed “Latin Fusion”!
All of it.
And, it’s muy, muy bueno!
Erin and Nick will agree!
(my own dish shared on Instagram during class!)
* all images taken on my outdated iPhone 4s. Gotta love it!
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.
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Salmon a la plancha with mango jus and mango and avocado relish with black quinoa
- 8 oz. salmon, skinned
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 whole mango, cubed
- 1.5 tsp. oregano
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- juice from 1 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup mango, cubed
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp chicken stock
- 2 tsp. shallots
- 2 tsp. butter
- 1/4 cup mango, cubed
- 1/4 cup Haas avocado, cubed
- 1.5 oz. orange juice
- 1 Tbsp. lime juice
- 2 Tbps. red bell pepper, chopped
Place clean salmon on plate and rub all over with garlic. Season with salt, pepper, oregano and lemon juice. Cover and chill for up to one hour. On stovetop grill pan, add olive oil and heat on medium. Sear fish on each side for 3 minutes until browned or cooked through, depending on your doneness desire.