Good fruit is best eaten as is, but some work very well with other ingredients, like mango and prawns
My friends are contemplating durian feasts and everywhere I turn in markets and supermarkets, there are piles of summer bounty.
Yes, 'tis the happy season for fruit. Better yet, June is arriving without the usual heatwave. Long may that last.
Just the other day, I bought a punnet of Rainier cherries, one of my favourite stone fruit. I have been enjoying a few a day (they are expensive) and getting so much pleasure out of them.
The pale, creamy yellow cherries, streaked with pink, have firm, sweet flesh and I cannot imagine why I did not get any last year.
I also missed out on peaches from the United States, the supply of which was affected drastically by sub-zero temperatures in February last year. It decimated 90 per cent of the peach crop in the eastern part of the country.
Experts are predicting a bumper harvest this year and I cannot wait for those delectable stone fruit to flood supermarkets here. So far, the pickings have been slim, quite literally. The peaches are small. I'm partial to large, juicy ones with a heady aroma that makes me swoon.
If these do not materialise, then at least I have mangoes to look forward to.
I missed Sein Ta Lone mangoes, so very delicious, from Myanmar last year. They were in supermarkets for about two minutes, during which I was off doing unimportant things, and then they were gone. I am on mango watch duty this year.
However, I have had good luck with Benishan mangoes from India. They are sweet, creamy and not fibrous. The smell of them ripening on the kitchen counter drives me insane with longing.
When given good fruit like that, it is crazy to do anything more than eat them as is. Unless a glut of a particular fruit drives prices way down, that is my preferred way to appreciate the bounty.
But some fruit pair so well with other ingredients.
This week's recipe is a simple salad, good for a picnic or as part of a casual Sunday brunch, of prawns and mango.
Tying them together is an equally simple-to-make lime juice and honey dressing.
Look for large, seedless limes in supermarkets as they yield a good amount of juice. If you can find Tahitian limes, use them.
I have always thought that the zest from citrus is the most valuable part of the fruit, so I try to shoehorn it into whatever I am making. In this salad dressing, it gives an intense flavour of the fruit that the juice alone cannot provide.
Notice how there is more lime juice than oil? This is not a classic vinaigrette, which calls for three times as much oil as acid. However, I love how light the dressing is and how it complements the prawns and mango without overwhelming their flavour.
For the fresh vibe of this salad, I will sacrifice one mango.
But unless there is a glut of peaches, I'll be eating them just the way they are.
· PRAWN AND MANGO SALAD
- 1 Tbs salt
- 750g head-on, shell-on, medium-sized prawns (about 30)
- For the dressing: 1 large seedless lime
- 1 Tbs grapeseed oil
- 1 Tbs honey
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 large mango, 450g to 500g
- 1 large red chilli
- 30g to 40g fresh coriander
- Butterhead lettuce
1. Add the salt to a medium pot of water, bring it to a boil over medium heat. Fill a large bowl halfway up the sides with water and add ice cubes to make an ice bath.
2. Shell and devein the prawns, rinse under running water. When the water comes to a boil, add the prawns and cook for one minute. Cut into one prawn to check that it is completely cooked through. If it is not, cook the prawns a further 20 seconds and check again.
3. Remove the prawns using a slotted spoon and dunk them in the ice bath to stop the cooking. When they are cool, place them in a colander set into a bowl and refrigerate.
4. Make the dressing: zest the lime and transfer to a clean glass jar with a screwtop lid. Juice the lime - you should get 2 Tbs of juice. If you do not, use another lime to get at least 2 Tbs of juice. Pour the juice into the jar. Add the oil, honey and salt. Screw on the lid and shake vigorously until the dressing is emulsified. Refrigerate.
5. Peel the mango with a vegetable peeler and cut the fruit into 1cm to 1.5cm cubes. Place in a large mixing bowl. Cut off and discard the stem of the chilli. Halve the chilli lengthwise and remove the seeds and membrane. Dice the chilli finely. Add to the bowl. Roughly chop up the coriander and add to the bowl.
6. Remove the prawns from the fridge and add them to the bowl. Have a taste of the dressing and add more salt if needed. Pour into the bowl and toss it well with the other ingredients. Line a serving platter with butterhead lettuce and spoon the prawns over the greens. Serve.
Serves four to six as an appetiser
Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.