Grilled Fish with Mango Salsa
This recipe is one of those recipes I have had for so long that I don’t exactly know where it I got it. I have been making it off and on for years. Many people like it with chips, but I prefer to use it on grilled fish and poultry. The sweet-tart crisp acidity and the tropical flavor is a perfect balance for something smoky and spicy off the grill. It is the perfect time to make it because there are some outstanding Mexican mangos available in the stores now.
Picking a good mango might be a challenge if you do not buy them often. There are 100’s of varieties of mangos from which to choose. Some are better than others. One of my favorites is the ‘Haden’. They are at the peak of the season now, and they seem to be everywhere. ‘Ataulfo’ mangoes (AKA Champagne or Manila mangoes) are also really delicious and have a great texture. They are a little smaller, but the pit is smaller as well, so the ratio of meat to pit is good (it is hard to go wrong with these). ‘Kents’ are also good mangos but don’t expect them to have great color. The green hue of the Kent mango throws people off, but when you ripen them to perfection they eat well. The one you might want to avoid is ‘Tommy Atkins’. Sorry Tommy…you are a little too stringy. When you reach for a mango in the store look for one that is soft. They are ready to eat when they are about the same softness as a ripe avocado. Don’t be thrown off if the skin is a little wrinkled; as long as there are no dark spots and they have a uniform consistency they are good to go.
Cutting a mango is not the easiest thing to do: there is a large pit, and the flesh does not come away from it easily. When people ask me, “what is the best way to cut a mango”, I advise them that the best way to do it is under a tropical waterfall. If you have a good mango, the juice will be running down your arm and all over the counter. Being in a tropical waterfall takes care of that, and you will find it very soothing on your nerves. The other methods involve taking a sharp knife to the top of the mango. Keeping the knife flat along the flat side of the mango, cut one-half of the mango off coming as close the pit as you can. Repeat on the other side. Using a paring knife cut the flesh of each half in a crosshatch pattern all the way to the skin without cutting into the skin. Then, scrape off the chunks of mango with a large spoon. Cut the remaining skin off the rest of the mango, and remove as much flesh as you can with a sharp pairing knife.
I also like a little papaya in my salsa. If you wanted to you could leave it out and make up the difference with more mango, but I like it in there. I use Mexican papaya. Usually, they are a little easier to find than a good ripe Hawaiian papaya, and they are meatier (and cheaper). For the fish, I use anything that is fresh and firm enough to hold up on the grill. I like Mahi Mahi or swordfish, but I depend on my trusted fishmonger to steer me in the right direction. I have played around with the seasoning, but I usually just go for salt, fresh ground pepper and a thin film of olive oil to flavor my fish. I also look at the Seafood Watch from the Monterey Aquarium to make sure I am making an environmentally sound choice and choosing a sustainable species of fish.
This recipe makes about five cups of salsa, which is more than you’ll need. If you don’t want leftovers, I recommend making half. Another great use for mango salsa is in ‘Mango Salsa and Chicken Quesadillas’. Just use some shredded chicken, a good melting cheese like mozzarella or pepper jack and some flour tortillas. Assemble the chicken and cheese evenly on a flour tortilla, spoon on some salsa, and then top it with another tortilla. Grill them on the stove or in a Panini press.
- 2 cups fresh mango, diced
- 1 cup papaya, diced
- 1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
- ½ red bell pepper, diced
- ½ red onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- Dash of hot sauce
- 3-4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 piece of firm fleshed fish per person
- Combine everything but the fish in a large bowl. Adjust seasoning to taste. This salsa can be made ahead of time. I like the flavor better after it has sat for a bit. Refrigerate until ready to use. Allow the salsa to come back to room temperature before using. Grill fish and plate, and top with a generous amount of salsa.