Mango sesame slaw is a fast, flavor bomb of a summer salad. Juicy, sweet mangoes pair with crunchy cabbage and a zesty dressing for the side dish of your sunny day dreams.
True story? Mangoes are new to me. Not like right this very second new, but I’d say we’ve only just got acquainted with one another in the past few months. So here’s the part where you’re like…”have you been living under a damn rock?”, to which I say…kinda, yeah.
We didn’t eat a lot of tropical fruit growing up – one because food shipping and storage in the 80’s and 90’s was not the modern marvel it is today, so things like mangoes were expensive and probably hard to find (I honestly don’t know though, because I was a kid and not in charge of the grocery shopping).
But that was then and this is now, and I’m a grown ass woman, so how have I lived my entire adult life* (up until very recently) without a sweet, juicy mango in it. Well I can’t really say I have a good excuse beyond that I work from home and am generally a pretty low key person who is not into fervent socializing or trying new things. But you know what? Even if I was all RAH RAH Carpe Diem I still might have missed them. I think we all have little (or sometimes big) gaps in our culinary lexicons. Firstly, there is a LOT of food in this world, so no one person can be expected to have experienced it all. And two, people like what they like and sometimes it’s hard to veer out of your lane.
But occasionally you’ll get inspired to branch out. Maybe it was a dish with an unfamiliar but intriguing ingredient you had while you were out at a trendy, new restaurant. Or perhaps your local grocery store was having a mega blowout sale on an item you’ve literally never bought before. For me inspiration struck while Eddie and I were powering through several episodes of Lost (re-watching for me, first time for him). They’re stuck on an island, right? So in pretty much every other scene some one is holding, slicing, gathering, or chomping on a ripe, juicy mango. I guess something about it just stuck, because the next day I was at the grocery store eyeing up those mangoes like nobody’s business.
Long story even longer…I bought one. I figured out how to break it down, and I ate it. And now mangoes are totally my new side piece. Seriously – can’t get enough. I’m sure as the summer months taper into cooler fall evenings, my fiery passion will also peter out. But for now me and mangoes are making up for a lot of lost time. Oh, they also eat a lot of papayas on Lost, but that’s another fruit for another day.
Mango Sesame Slaw
This slaw is many things…zesty, crunchy, sweet, spicy, juicy, refreshing, healthy, vegan, gluten free, picnic friendly, and damn delicious. But you know what it is not? It’s not a big, hairy deal. It’s so easy in fact that once you’ve figured out how to tackle that mango (which I detail below) the rest comes together in mere minutes. So here’s the deets.
What you’ll need to make this mango sesame slaw
- Mangoes (duh). Look for one big guy or two smaller ones. Whatever you pick though make sure it gives to gentle pressure (much like a ripe avocado). If it’s not ready, put it in a paper bag along with a banana – it will speed up the ripening process. When you do have a ripe and juicy mango on your hands you just need to break it down. To begin, peel it using a vegetable peeler. Then cut a small piece from the stem end and stand the mango up on its cut side. If it gets slippery, you can use a paper towel to get a better grip. Then cut cheeks off the fruit, avoiding the large pit in the center. You should get two larger lobes and two smaller slivers. Easy as pie, right?
- Cabbage. This is a slaw after all, and any good slaw needs something crunchy to bulk it out. I’m not picky though. You can use the standard green stuff (like I did), or opt for whatever looks good at the market that day. The pre-shredded bagged stuff is also a-ok. Just make sure that whatever you use is thinly shredded. That way the greens can easily soak up the delicious dressing.
- Scallions. These lend a hint of oniony flavor without being overbearing. Feel free to omit them entirely if you want…or sub in something else from the allium family (red onions, shallots, etc) just make sure they’re very thinly sliced.
How to make the zesty asian dressing
Dressings are about balance. This one is particularly simple but it still has all the key elements of a great dressing in my opinion. It’s acidic, salty, sweet, and just a little bit spicy. You can easily switch out specific ingredients here, as long as you keep the basic flavors the same and taste as you go, making adjustments where necessary. Here are a few guidelines for making successful substitutions.
- Acid – Feel free to sub in all lime juice, or even omit the small amount of lime that’s in the recipe. As far as other types of vinegar are concerned, just remember that rice vinegar is an extremely light and clean variety, which allows the other ones to shine through. A more robust vinegar (red wine for instance) would really over power the slaw. I would steer clear of anything more strongly flavored than cider vinegar.
- Salt – To keep this simple I call for standard kosher salt. If you are using table salt use half as much. And if you want to forego the salt entirely, feel free to sub in a splash of soy sauce or fish sauce.
- Sweet – Again for the sake of simplicity I just used plain old granulated sugar here. I think it provides a really clean sweetness that doesn’t get in the way of anything else. However honey, agave, or maple syrup would also be just fine. They will all add their own unique flavor, but it will all be good.
- Spicy – I always have chili flakes in my pantry, which is why they made it into this recipe, but if you’re a sriracha person feel free to use that. Sambal, gochujang, or even just a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce would all make stellar substitutions.
So now that you’re armed with a super simple, easily tweaked recipe for a perfect summer side dish, go forth and picnic, BBQ, and party your heart out. And remember that it’s never too late to embrace something you’ve never tried before.
More picture perfect party dishes to try
*Full disclosure, it’s not like I haven’t eaten anything mango related for the past 35 years…but I haven’t really cooked with them until very recently.Print
Mango Sesame Slaw
Sweet mangoes get the slaw treatment in this simple summer salad that’s perfect as a side dish to your next weeknight dinner or neighborhood BBQ!
- Prep Time: 15 Minutes
- Cook Time: 0 Minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 4 Servings 1x
- Category: Salad
- Cuisine: Asian
2 T sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp chili flake
3 T unseasoned rice wine vinegar
Juice of half a lime
1 T toasted sesame oil
1 large mango, peeled and chopped
1 medium head green cabbage, finely shredded
3 scallions, sliced thin
2 tsp sesame seeds
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, salt, chili flake, vinegar, lime juice, and sesame oil. Whisk until all the sugar and salt have dissolved.
Add the mango, cabbage, scallions, and sesame seeds. Toss thoroughly and serve.
You may omit the lime juice and just use all vinegar – just up the quantity to 1/4 cup. Other vinegars or all lime juice will work here as well, but make sure you pick something relatively clean and light (cider vinegar would be as heavy as I would go).
To break down a mango, peel it using a vegetable peeler. Then cut a small piece from the stem end and stand the mango up on its cut side. Then cut cheeks off the fruit, avoiding the large pit in the center. You should get two larger lobes and two smaller slivers. Then chop as directed.
You may use napa cabbage, or cole slaw mix for this, just make sure the cabbage is thin so it soaks up the dressing quickly.
This is best eaten fresh as it will leach out water as it sits. But if you need to make it ahead make sure to taste and re-season just before serving.
Keywords: mango slaw, quick asian slaw, picnic friendly side dish, easy weeknight salad