Today our lunch looks just like the weather. It’s a happy day and a happy meal that is not just good for you, but over the top in flavors that burst in your mouth, the same way the sun burst into the sky after weeks of rain and cloudy days. You can join in my good mood just by gazing at the colors of this dish.
It’s food that is not “messed” with, kept as whole and untouched as possible so that each ingredient can be a star in its own right. This is my idea of a happy meal, not in line at all with the vision of modern culture’s happy meal. You can’t wrap this and put it in a bag. It’s not a carry around eat with your hands on the way out the door meal. It’s a “sit down, taste, enjoy, and savor each and every bite” meal. It was so good that I’ve been remembering it all day, wanting to eat it all over again. So good that I couldn’t eat dinner, because I’m ruined to be hungry for anything else. I may have to run to Whole Foods tomorrow and have it all over again.
Mango Crazy – How it Started
I am committed to two mango dishes this week and thought why not be like my fellow food blogger friend Greg at Sippity Sup. He went mint crazy last week and made no less than FIVE mint dishes that are worth checking out.
Mangos are not a go to food for me, but why not take on the challenge and prepare five dishes with mangos. It was easy to know where to start. We could be in separate rooms and answer the question correctly. What would DC want me to do with mangos. Make a salsa and put it on seafood. He got excited and brought me home a case of mangoes, which led to a back and forth on what I could do with them.
I had to pair the mango with tomato. I can’t say why but it was in my head, and I discovered I like the two sweet fruits put together. They are beautiful side by side. Perhaps it works because one doesn’t take away from the other. They can remain distinctly who they are, each exhibiting a different kind of sweet.
My First Attempt was a Failure
You need to know that I have kitchen failures trying to develop my own recipes. If I could give you a cooking lesson, it would be to go with your instincts, your own taste buds, use recipes as guides and be willing to try again. This time, I made the mistake of putting the mango tomato and onion in a food processor all at the same time, and all I got was mush. With a box of mangos staring at me, I started over, realizing the importance of keeping each ingredient separate and chopping by hand.
On my second try, I decided to use some mango I had macerated in limoncello using Italian lemon liqueur, but you can skip that step if you use very ripe mangos. I roughly chopped up each ingredient separately and then brought it all together. I did not use a lot of heat or a lot of red onion, because they can overpower the mango and tomato flavors and the delicate flavor of the halibut.
Cilantro or Basil
We had one disagreement. DC wanted cilantro. I wanted basil. Of course, I divided it up and made it both ways, thinking I would change his mind. He thinks his version was better, and I still disagree. Normally, I trust his taste buds, which are incredibly sophisticated and spot on. He knows immediately, what I need to take out or put in. I marvel at this, and feel the hand of divine intervention in making us a couple.
The recipe is for the salsa and halibut. The fish was served over brown rice made with mango and basil, but you could easily figure out how to do that, or I might return with a rice recipe. You could use white rice, wheat berries, couscous, orzo, etc. Arrange raw spinach on a dish, drizzle with olive oil. Cover most of the spinach with the hot rice or hot grain. Place halibut on top of rice, and then arrange salsa on top of the halibut. It’s an all in one dish meal, but certainly no casserole, not even close. You will be able to taste everything individually and that is what makes this such a superb meal.
Recipe for Grilled Halibut with Tomato Mango Salsa
- 1 pound halibut
- olive oil
- salt, pepper
- Allow halibut to sit out before grilling for 20 minutes so it will cook in center.
- Brush grill or spray grill with oil so fish will not stick. Brush lightly with olive oil, lemon. Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat grill to very hot, and then turn to medium high. Sear on grill skin side down, for 5 minutes. Turn over for another 4-5 minutes, watching carefully to not overcook. Time will vary depending upon thickness of fish. The fish is done as soon as the translucency disappears.
Tomato Mango Salsa
- 1 mango, macerated in liquor such rum overnight, sliced, diced
- 1 tomato, seeded, diced
- handful basil leaves chopped or cilantro
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion or finely chopped shallots
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped serrano pepper, seeded, deveined
- 1/4 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded, deveined, diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- juice of 1 lime
- Peel mango, using a potato peeler. I use a mandolin to medium slice the mango, then dice.
- Slice tomato, squeeze out seeds, dice.
- Dice or cut herbs with kitchen scissors, finely
- Mix olive oil and lime juice together.Bring together gently to avoid over blending or making mushy.
- Add lime zest at end.
Allow to sit in refrigerator for at least one hour.
Notes: Macerating a mango will help to bring out it’s flavor as it breaks it down. I used limoncello, but you can use a syrup made of citrus sugar water or a different alcohol, such as rum.