Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Mango and Avocado Salsa

This recipe for me was a really fun one! Just look at the vibrancy and the great mix of colours in that bowl – this mango and avocado salsa just screams joy, fun and laughter. But then again for me, so does Mexican food in general.
In this country most people’s first experiences of Mexican food come in the form of an Old El Paso fajita kit, (or perhaps these days it’s a Discovery pack or your Supermarket’s own brand version...)

When I was growing up Mexican food was really just starting to take off in this country. Old El Paso was seen as a real treat. It was exciting, fun, and all the family could get involved by building their own fajita/taco etc.
We still buy these kits every now and then and ‘fajita night’ is a much loved night in my house. It’s all about getting stuck in, getting a little bit messy and tailoring your food to your mood. Some day’s I’m feeling extra spicy and add mounds of jalapenos. Other day’s I want something creamy and velvety and pile on the sour cream and refried beans.

While there’s nothing wrong with using these kits. It’s really easy to do your own Mexican food at home – without taking these little short cuts. In my second year at university, some friends and I decided to do a “Come Dine with Me” style cooking competition. The idea was that we were all skint and wanted some cheap indoor entertainment. I decided that I wanted to do a Mexican Night. I had a bottle of margarita mix left over from god knows when, and the essential like a pack of chicken, wraps and sour cream could all be brought pretty cheaply. As it was a cookery competition I decided to steer away from the packet mixes and spent hours analysing the back of “fajita spice” packets before raiding my own spice cupboard to come up with my own personalised fajita spice blend.
That spice blend saw me win our little competition (though no prizes unfortunately) and set me up for fajita nights to come!

If you don’t feel like going to the extreme of developing your own spice blend, I don’t blame you! BUT there are other ways you can jazz up a Mexican meal without resorting to packets.
Take the jars of salsa for example. Travel to Mexico and I promise you the slop we buy in a jar that seeps a greyish-red liquid is NOT salsa. In fact they have hundreds of different salsas...none of which look like that!

SO, I propose you make your own salsa to serve alongside tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, or even just a delicious bit of steak as I did here. (But that’s for another day!)
I think the key to making a good salsa is to go for the key colour groups – green, red and yellow.

For example -
Green: coriander (cilantro), lime, avocado, green pepper, jalapenos

Red: tomatoes (fresh not tinned/canned), red pepper, red onion, watermelon, grapefruit, chilli peppers
Yellow: yellow pepper, sweetcorn, lemon, mango

You can mix and match any of these ingredients to make a fab Mexican inspired salsa! One thing I must say, when choosing ingredients from the colour groups above; don’t be afraid to add in fruit. The juice of lemons and limes is an obvious choice to give the salsa a bit of zing, but chunks of watermelon, grapefruit and mango all bring another flavour dimension and texture to the salsa.
I think this salsa works well for that exact reason. Not only does it include fresh mango, but also avocado which adds a creamy texture to the salsa and balances out the sharp lime juice.

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