These days, my kitchen is overflowing with cucumbers from my neighbor Beppi’s garden. I use at least one in every meal, slicing them thin to throw into green salads, or dressing them with oil and vinegar on their own for cucumber salad.
Last night, I was inspired by a meal I had at the home of a friend who is a magnificent cook. As a young woman, she learned to cook Indian food from a beloved family friend, and last night, she had a group of us over for homemade curry.
I’ve always loved curry, but seldom eaten it, let alone attempted to make it. Good curry requires an array of spices, many of them freshly milled, that are blended to achieve a perfect balance. The spice blend is then sauteed with aromatic vegetables, like shallots, chili peppers and tomato, then the main ingredient is added (chicken, fish, etc.) The mixture is simmered, then showered with fresh cilantro.
Upon our arrival, I watched my friend make a beautiful shrimp dish with mango, ginger, jalapeno, shallot, sweet pepper and turmeric. The resulting dish was so intoxicatingly bright, sweet and fresh, that I found myself craving this combination the next day.
Although I don’t keep turmeric in my cupboard, I decided to approximate the bright flavor sensation of my friend’s dish, by making a raw salsa with cucumber, mango, red pepper, jalapeno, cilantro and rice wine vinegar. This would be the perfect topping for grilled salmon. As an accompaniment to the salmon, I served my red cabbage with pine nuts and raisins (see post below).
The salsa is very simple and merely requires a little patience with the chopping knife. All ingredients must be chopped to uniform fineness, then dressed with the proper balance of oil, rice wine vinegar (and/or lime juice), and sugar (I used agave).
You’ll end up eating half this mixture with a spoon before it even hits the dinner plates, and in fact, this would make an equally good dip with tortilla chips (if you like that sort of thing).
Cucumber and Mango Salsa
serves 4 as a sauce for grilled fish or shellfish
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 ripe mango
a quarter of a red pepper
half a jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed
juice of a lime or 2 tbls rice wine vinegar
1 tbls olive oil
1 tbls agave or sugar
salt to taste
1/4 c fresh cilantro
Remove core from mango by standing vertically and slicing around the fibrous core.
Chop all ingredients into 1/4″ dice.
Combine and taste for salt.
Serve or refrigerate for later.