We are experiencing a crazy, muggy, very humid heat wave here in Boston. It's been tough walking my normal 20-minute walk to work. By the time I arrive, I feel like I already need a shower and another change of clothing.
It's days like this that I really don't feel like turning on the stove, oven, or anything that could generate more heat. I crave something refreshing and cool, full of seasonal summer ingredients.
Thankfully, summer is blessed with an abundance of fresh produce. I'm reminded of my trip to Thailand not too long along (another very hot place!), where I took cooking classes and learned so much about the glorious variety of herbs, fruits, and vegetables available there.
Fresh produce market in Bangkok, Thailand
Just a couple weeks ago, P.F. Chang's asked me if I would be interested in designing an Asian-inspired dish based on summer ingredients featured in their new Summer Seasonal Menu. They are currently hosting a Flavors of Summer Sweepstake Pinterest contest where contestants can pin their favorite ingredients from the summer ingredients list for chances to win P.F. Chang's gift cards.
This list of summer ingredients most certainly makes me think of Thailand, especially ingredients like the green papaya, which I used to make Som Tam in Thailand; or fresh cilantro, Thai basil, and bean sprouts, which is often served with Pad Thai or other local dishes on the street.
Bean sprouts, lime wedges, and herbs from the most famous pad Thai restaurant in Bangkok
Inspired by my trip to Thailand as well as a meal I recently enjoyed, I decided to make a refreshing Mango Ceviche dressed with lime juice and topped with kaffir lime leaves, shallots, habanero peppers, and crispy pancetta.
Ceviche is usually a term reserved for seafood that's been marinated in citrus and seasoned with hot peppers. It's common in Central and South America. You often see white fish, shrimp, or scallops being prepared this way. Often the seafood is further tossed with onions and fresh herbs, like cilantro.
This dish is a playful take on that concept, since it's the mango that's being dressed with lime juice, shallots, and hot peppers. However, the texture of the ripe mango is similar to that of raw fish, so even though it's technically not ceviche, it very much embodies the spirit of a ceviche.
Thinly slice mango into slices roughly the size of a piece of sashimi. It's best to choose a really soft, ripe, and very sweet mango.
Squeeze lime juice over the entire plate of mango slices.
Tope the citrus-marinated mango slices with finely chopped shallots, finely chopped habanero peppers, and thin snippets of kaffir lime leaves. You can also use other herbs such as cilantro if you can't access the kaffir lime leaves. If you want an additional crunch, consider adding thinly sliced radishes, or even jicama. It's really quite flexible.
If you can't handle the heat of a habanero, you can instead substitute them with something milder (such as jalapenos), or something not spicy at all, such as a bell pepper.
A delicious addition is crispy pancetta on top, which I think totally makes the dish.
Crumble the crispy pancetta pieces and throw them on top.
2 ripe mangos
1-2 kaffir lime leaves (or a few cilantro leaves)
juice of ½ lime
peppers, minced or thinly sliced (habaneros, jalapenos, or just red bell peppers)
pancetta (1-2 sliced, cooked until crispy and crushed)
This is one of those recipes that you really almost don't need to measure, since the ratios are sort of up to you. Use your visual judgment as you probably won't go wrong.
Using a sharp knife, remove the skin of the mango. Using either a peeler or a sharp knife, carefully "shave" off thin pieces of mango about the size of a slice of sashimi sushi. Arrange the mango slices so that they fill up a layer on the plate. Squeeze the juice of ½ a lime over the mango slices. Top with finely minced shallots, thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves (or cilantro), finely minced peppers (habanero, jalapeno, bell), and crispy pancetta.
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