Cooking with Calley P: Semana Santa salsa

Calley Prezzano is a Le Cordon Bleu-trained Chef who has made a career in fine dining cuisine, emphasizing fresh & local products from the area. In this new blog for The Nicaragua Dispatch, Chef Calley will share a few struggles, triumphs, and recipes that make cooking in Nicaragua an adventure for all five senses. This week: Semana Santa salsa with mango and mimbro.

Mango and Mimbro are two of my favorite fruits. And, because the seasons for various fruits here are often so short (mimbro will be out of season by May), I’ve got to take advantage of them while I can!

The changing seasons here makes each fruit special and gives an easy lesson in impermanence. I encourage you to overindulge in mangos and mimbro while they’re around. And then, when you’re satiated and can’t eat another bite, you get the “joy” of watching as piles of uneaten fruit fall from the trees and turn into fermenting, smelly mush.

ingredients for this week's salsa

But then, soon enough, it will be time for the next fruit to come into season!

I’ve never actually had mangoes from, Rivas, “The City of Mangoes.” But from trees in Granada, Tola and the Caribbean, I’ve tried at least 10 different kinds of mangos—from sugar, kidney, papaya, and a handful of others, of which I can’t recall the names. But man, are they tasty!

And here’s a dental hygiene tip: keep floss in your pocket during mango season.

I think mimbro is lesser-known than mangos. It’s in the same family as star fruit, as you’ll note in the similarity of its texture. The flavor profile is kind of like a sour, like astringent kiwi. It is traditionally sliced up in cabbage salad to top vigorón, and once in a while it’s also used in frescos.

Today’s recipe, folks, is a simple one. It’s hot out there this time of year. And turning on the oven, or even the stovetop, is not fun (I, of course, don’t have a choice: it’s my job to keep the kitchen going with three ovens, a dozen burners, a deep fryer, a pizza oven, an industrial toaster. Then again, if you can’t stand the heat in the kitchen…)

So, for Semana Santa, here’s a simple, fresh salsa using seasonal fruits. The mango is sweet, the avocado creamy, and the mimbro packs delicious bursts of acidic punch while you chow down.

It’s healthy, it’s colorful and it’s tasty: perfect to serve at a vacation celebration this week!

safety first when cutting a mango

This recipe will challenge and help you hone your knife skills. I was just asked the other day how I peel a mango. Honestly, I do it with my teeth, like a banana, to avoid juices dripping onto my hands. But a split-second later I realize the questioner meant “While at work,” so I smoothly chuckled as if I’d been making a joke, and explained the following:

 

1)  safety first: cut a flat surface to the fruit (so it doesn’t roll off of the cutting board, leaving you to slice your hand off)

2)  peel like a pineapple with a knife (alternately, just use a peeler)

3)  Make horizontal slices along each side of the mango all the way to the seed. From there, create a grid and make vertical slices to create cubes.

4)  Lastly, slice cubes off and onto the cutting board! The same “grid” technique is used for evenly dicing onions or fennel, for example.

For other fruits and vegetables, like mimbro, the style is similar. Cut the fruit so that it has a flat surface and doesn’t roll. Keep your fingers tucked in and cut into planks, then matchsticks, then small cubes! Hecho!

 

Mimbro-Avocado Salsa with Mango

1/2 cup finely diced mimbro

1/2 cup finely diced mango (any variety)

1 tsp. minced jalapeño or thai bird chile

1/2 cup finely diced red onion

4 tsp. minced mint

1 1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. olive oil

1 overflowing cup of diced avocado (medium firm)

 

mix avocado last

1. Mix everything together in a large bowl. Fold the avocado in last to preserve it in cubes as best as possible. Serve.

If you stir the mix too much, no sweat (actually, given the heat these days, no more sweat than normal). Just tell everyone it’s guacamole instead of salsa!

This salsa goes well with: sesame crusted fish and rice, chips, or mixed with cooked and chilled shrimp as a salad.

 

¡Buen Provecho!

 

 

Calley Prezzano was classically trained in San Francisco, California. She has cooked in Michelin Star Restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area and was the founding Executive Chef of Jicaro Ecolodge in Granada, Nicaragua. She is the founding Executive Chef of La Finca y El Mar Restaurant in Rancho Santana in Tola, Nicaragua. (www.lafincayelmar.blogspot.comwww.ranchosantana.com,www.probablycooking.blogspot.com)

  • Luciana Rojas

    Great idea! I will like to have mimbro here to prepare this salsa. Next time in Nicaragua.