Our Burmese green mango salad recipe makes one of Southeast Asia’s best green mango salads. Where the Thai green mango salad is notable for its spiciness, the Cambodian green mango salad for it funkiness, and the Vietnamese green mango salad for its fragrance, the Burmese green mango salad is the most balanced and textured.
In northern Southeast Asia, where green mango salads can be found in every country, with variations both across the region and within provinces, cities, towns, and villages within each country, this Burmese green mango salad recipe makes one of Southeast Asia’s best green mango salads.
Our Burmese green mango salad recipe is based on a salad we learnt to make in a cooking class in Myanmar and a Burmese green mango salad recipe recipe that I’ve adapted from my favourite Burmese cookbook, Mi Mi Khaing’s Cook and Entertain the Burmese Way, dating to 1978. It’s a charming book that’s become very precious to me this year, as who knows when we’ll get back to Myanmar.
This Burmese green mango salad recipe is next in our series of recipes from Myanmar intended to draw attention to the tragic situation in the country, because, frustratingly, events in Myanmar have largely disappeared from the pages of most mainstream news publications.
So far we’ve published recipes for a classic Burmese chicken curry, Mi Mi Khaing’s homemade curry powder, an Indian-style Burmese curry, Burmese street food-style fried chicken, Burmese coconut rice, Burmese raw cabbage salad, a Shan vermicelli noodle salad and a Shan tomato salad recipe. Older recipes on the site include a Burmese egg curry and ohn no khao swe, one of our favourite broths from Myanmar.
If you’re not aware of the situation in Myanmar, in February a coup d’état ousted the democratically elected government, which inspired a nationwide civil disobedience movement, to which the military responded with extraordinary brutality, violence against peaceful protestors, raids on homes and abduction of activists, massacres in the streets, and airstrikes on villages, resulting in thousands of deaths of innocent civilians, including frontline workers.
We’ll soon be publishing a dedicated guide to how to help the people of Myanmar and after we do, we’ll continue to share recipes for our favourite dishes from Myanmar with links to the guide. Until then, we’ll highlight organisations that need your support, such as Myanmar Now. The military regime is targeting journalists and the independent news site desperately needs donations to continue its essential reporting work.
Now let me tell you about this Burmese green mango salad recipe.
Burmese Green Mango Salad Recipe for Southeast Asia’s Best Green Mango Salad
From our balcony on the third floor of an apartment block in the centre of Cambodia’s northern city of Siem Reap, we see green: lush tropical vegetation flourishes in gardens and backyards, crimson bougainvillea drips over fences, lofty coconut palms tower over wooden houses and shade hotel swimming pools and school grounds, and everywhere there are mango trees.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that in the tropical areas of the northern Southeast Asian countries of Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam most homes with gardens would have a mango tree in their yard. You’ll even find mango trees in parks and gardens in the busy centres of capital cities such as Bangkok, Saigon, Phnom Penh, and Yangon.
So, it should be no surprise that mango features in so many Southeast Asian dishes and that every northern Southeast Asian cuisine has a green mango salad of some kind. Of all the Southeast Asian green mango salads, this Burmese green mango salad recipe makes one of my favourite green mango salads.
While I’m very fond of Cambodia’s green mango salads (I especially adore the Cambodian green mango salad with smoked fish) and I do enjoy the family of salads known here as ‘boks’, which are pounded in a mortar and pestle, I have to confess that after a decade of living in Southeast Asia and two decades travelling in the region, I’m not in love with pounded salads when the ingredients are so smashed that they’re drowning in their juices.
Which partly explains why I prefer the texture of a salad that’s somewhere in between a pounded and tossed salad and why I have a soft spot for Myanmar’s salads, especially the Shan salads and Burmese salads. I really love their texture and balance.
In my post on Mi Mi Khaing’s Burmese raw cabbage salad recipe, I shared her secrets to making salads – mixing them by hand, called ‘lethoke, which is the name of that genre of salad, and achieving a balance of flavour, consistency, colour, and fragrance.
I also provided a list of the ingredients from each category that she encourages cooks to select from in order to create the perfect salad. If you follow Mi Mi Khaing’s guide you really can’t go wrong and I’m going to come back to that in another post.
This Burmese green mango salad is comprised of ingredients from each of Mi Mi Khaing’s categories – fish sauce for saltiness, shrimp paste for a “heavier taste” she considers essential, a sour fruit (in this case, green mango), sesame seeds and shrimp powder or ground dried shrimp to counteract moistness (and in my opinion, provide texture), oil for ‘blending’ (or combining) flavours, and the green chillies, shallots, crispy fried onions, and fresh mint for fragrance, colour and finish.
Now let me share a few tips to making this Burmese green mango salad recipe.
Tips to Making this Burmese Green Mango Salad Recipe
I only have a few tips to making this Burmese green mango salad recipe starting with mangoes. You will need green mangoes. Green mangoes are not only unripe mangoes, they’re a particular kind of mango that never turns orange.
Green mango skin always stays green and the fresh inside is actually yellow, not green. When it’s unripe it’s the flesh is firm and pale lemon to deep lemon colour and when it ripens the flesh is very yellow and soft. It has a lovely flavour actually but it’s very different to the mango that most people know.
One change I’ve made is instead of using raw onions or raw shallots, I’ve use pickled pink shallots, but you can use either. The recipe calls for shrimp paste and fish sauce, which would result in quite a funky flavoured dish if that funkiness wasn’t offset by the other flavours and textures of sour, tart, spicy, sweet, crunchy, and crispy.
When you taste the dish, if it tastes too sour or too tart, add more sugar or spice; if it tastes too funky, add more spice; if it tastes too much of green mango, add more texture and fragrance. Always taste and adjust the seasoning to suit your palate.
Having said all that, and despite my opinion of the salad and my view that it’s more balanced than other green mango salads, this Burmese green mango salad recipe is intended to make a salad that is bright and sharp to accompany those rich oily Burmese curries, so don’t change things too much. When you eat a little curry and a little salad, you’ll realise they’re a perfect match.
Burmese Green Mango Salad Recipe
- 2 green mangoes
- ¼ tsp shrimp paste
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil or peanut oil
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp sea salt optional/to taste
- 1 purple shallot / small red onion diced, quick pickled
- 1-2 long green medium-hot chillies sliced, deseeded
- 1 tbsp dried shrimp ground in a mortar
- 2 tbsp roasted sesame seeds mix of white and black
- 2 tbsp crispy fried shallots
- 2 tbsp fresh mint leaves
- Peel the green mangoes, cut off each mango cheek either side of the side, then finely slice the mango pieces into batons.
- Scoop the teaspoon of shrimp paste onto a piece of foil and bake in the oven or lay the foil on a fry pan and heat for a few minutes until fragrant.
- To make the dressing, transfer the shrimp paste to a small mixing bowl, then add the oil, vinegar, fish sauce, and sugar and combine well. Taste and add the optional salt if needed.
- To a large mixing bowl, add the mangoes, sliced long green chillies, half of the ground dried shrimp, and one tablespoon of each of the roasted sesame seeds, crispy fried shallots, and fresh mint leaves, then add the dressing and combine well.
- Transfer to a salad bowl or serving plate, and sprinkle on the remaining sesame seeds, crispy fried shallots, and fresh mint leaves.
- Serve with Burmese curries, rice, and a relish or two.
Please do let us know if you make this Burmese green mango salad recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.