It’s (not) easy being green: Burmese green mango salad


It’s not that easy being green;
Having to spend each day the color of the leaves.
When I think it could be nicer being red, or yellow or gold…
or something much more colorful like that.

This song could have been written for young mangoes, as they slowly grow on mango trees, nestled in the mango flowers (!), blending in with the leaves and other ordin’ry things.


As we go into late summer, mangoes ripen, and take on the colours of red, or yellow or gold. They become such a luscious fruit, the essence of summer, humidity, sun, and heat like a warm blanket.

But each year, part of me looks back nostalgically on the green mangoes, appearing in the markets so briefly, like that moment between spring and summer. Green mangoes that are fresh and cool, rather than heady-tropical. As Kermit might have said:

But green’s the color of Spring.
And green can be cool and friendly-like.
And green’s the color of green mangoes.
And green can be crunchy and sweet-sour-like.*

* with apologies for the textual travesty


This year’s green mango season, I made the green mango salad from Naomi Duguid’s book, Burma: Rivers of Flavor.

Unlike the better known Thai salads, this one won’t have you breathing fire (from the level of spiciness), and mostly uses fresh ingredients that were easy to find, at least in Sydney. But with a handful of fresh ingredients, the salad had a surprising depth of flavour and range of interesting textures. Each ingredients had room to shine – green mangoes, slightly bitter leaves, savoury shrimp powder, peanuts, fresh shallots and crispy fried shallots, chilli (and other things I just toss in for fun).

On really humid evenings, this salad plus some Tibetan bread was dinner (which also leaves space for frozen yoghurt or gelato). I must have made it 3, 4 times, a record in our house. To misquote Dr Seuss:

I like green mangoes, and –
I do!! I like them, Sam-I-am!
And I would eat them in a boat!
And I would eat them with a goat…
And I will eat them in the rain.
And in the dark. And on a train.
And in a car. And in a tree.
They are so good, so good, you see!

So I will eat them in a box.
And I will eat them with a fox.
And I will eat them in a house.
And I will eat them with a mouse.
And I will eat them here and there.
Say! I will eat them ANHYWHERE!




Serious stuff

The Asian markets have two types of green mango, one labelled ‘sweet green mango’, and the other just ‘green mango’ or sometimes ‘sour green mango’. I use the sweet ones, as I prefer their milder, nutty/floury, tart-sweet flavour. I’ve also read the sour ones are usually used in cooking rather than eaten raw.

The salad recipes in the book ask for a couple of unusual ingredients. But the good news is once you’ve made them, you can use them again and again in a range of salads. This one calls for dried shrimp powder, which sounds horrible and smelly and difficult, but was actually a cinch to make, and keeps well in the pantry, away from sunlight. Since making a small jar, I’ve tossed it into stir fries and omelettes to add a little savoury depth.

And if you’re struck by the Burma travel bug, like me, here is a bit of armchair travel.

So, where’s the recipe?

Well, I haven’t found the recipe published on the internet, so I also won’t put it up yet. But if you’re curious about this salad and want the recipe, leave a comment.

There are also many, many versions of green mango salad from a number of South-east Asian countries. Here is a handful of slightly random links; if you know a better recipe please let me know!

The Thai green mango salad is probably the one I see most often (here and here).

Then, as I discovered, there are recipes from Vietnam (here and here), Cambodia (here), and
Philippines (here and here), to name a few most obvious examples.

People also eat green mangoes ‘straight’ with chili salt, in green mango shakes, and turn them into pickles (with many variations including one from Punjab)

Phew! While I wait for next year’s supply of green mangoes, I’m heading over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday with a big, imaginary bowl of this stuff. It’ll go great with Angie’s jambalaya, really!


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50 thoughts on “It’s (not) easy being green: Burmese green mango salad

  1. simplyvegetarian777 9 March 2014 at 12:47 pm Reply

    I can only imagine the flavors!

    • saucygander 10 March 2014 at 1:52 am Reply

      Thank you! We are waiting for the next green mango season, so I can only imagine the flavors too..

  2. indusinternationalkitchen 9 March 2014 at 2:13 pm Reply

    I love green mangoes! Love these diff salads that you have made us imagine with these pics!. I love the especially sour ones which I use to make shrimp and / fish curry in a coconut sauce. In kerala (southern india) green mango chutney is also made using coconut.

    • saucygander 10 March 2014 at 1:53 am Reply

      Shrimp or fish city with green mango sounds delicious! And I did not know about the mango chutney, must look it up! πŸ˜€

      • indusinternationalkitchen 10 March 2014 at 1:07 pm

        I have been meaning to post my version of the green mango chutney – will post it soon! πŸ™‚

  3. The Novice Gardener 9 March 2014 at 3:11 pm Reply

    Of course, we want the recipe, YOUR recipe! There is a Thai green papaya salad that I love, called Som Tam. My Thai college roommate used to make it for me. It was completely addicting and refreshing. I haven’t had it in ages. This reminds me of it and probably tastes a lot like it, yeah? Don’t get me started on Dr. Seuss. I have him in my head all week! Did you know it was his birthday last Sunday? Oh the things they do in school to celebrate. Have you ever heard of Seussical chair?

    Btw, you didn’t link your photo?

    • saucygander 9 March 2014 at 6:04 pm Reply

      Dang! I knew there was something I forgot – one of those Sundays! Linked.

      And…I knew there was a reason I was thinking Dr Seuss!! I should have tried for a green eggs and ham post! πŸ˜€

  4. yummychunklet 9 March 2014 at 3:45 pm Reply

    What a fresh looking salad!

  5. lapetitepaniere 9 March 2014 at 4:59 pm Reply

    So delicious.

  6. Gather and Graze 9 March 2014 at 5:49 pm Reply

    This sounds really lovely – so full of beautiful flavours! I’ve not tried green mango before, but the way you describe it, makes me so sorry I missed green mango season… I’ll bookmark this and wait with bated breath for next spring! Great references to Kermit and Dr S by the way – very apt! πŸ™‚

    • saucygander 10 March 2014 at 1:57 am Reply

      Glad you liked the Dr Seuss and Kermit references! I was plating around with ideas for this post, and when I thought of those lyrics, it all fell into place.
      Yes, do try green mangoes when they are in season again. Or, if you can find green papaya, it would work in this kind of salad too. It is a really lovely dish.

  7. Experienced Tutors 9 March 2014 at 7:46 pm Reply

    As usual both interesting and tasty. Just how do you do that!

    • saucygander 10 March 2014 at 2:00 am Reply

      Thank you, wise old owl.. Can you tell I spend a lot of time thinking about food (and food related textual travesties)? πŸ™‚

  8. leggypeggy 9 March 2014 at 7:47 pm Reply

    I’d love to have the recipe. I used to live in Burma and remember salads like this.

    • saucygander 10 March 2014 at 2:00 am Reply

      Sure, I will send it to you in the next couple of days.

      • leggypeggy 10 March 2014 at 7:15 am

        Thanks, most appreciated.

  9. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella 9 March 2014 at 9:04 pm Reply

    I’ve found that once I buy those slightly odd ingredients, I find lots of other recipes that have them too so they always end up used up πŸ™‚

    • saucygander 10 March 2014 at 2:01 am Reply

      So true, and it justifies buying more odd ingredients! πŸ™‚

  10. […] Saucy […]

  11. Patty Nguyen 10 March 2014 at 4:35 am Reply

    I was introduced to Burmese food several years ago. I LOVE IT!! Your mango salad looks scrumptious!

  12. Ngan R. 10 March 2014 at 8:26 am Reply

    I love a good green mango salad. We have a Vietnamese version too and by the looks of your ingredients, they are pretty similar! So, we have Kermit and Dr. Seuss today, the hobbits last week…I wonder who will appear next week on your blog? πŸ™‚

  13. nancyc 10 March 2014 at 8:34 am Reply

    I love mangos, but have never had a green one. I will have to look out for those!

  14. Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs 10 March 2014 at 1:59 pm Reply

    yes please!! I can’t wait to see this recipe!! You have me so intrigued… πŸ™‚

  15. Johnny Hepburn 10 March 2014 at 2:43 pm Reply

    Not that I’m ever going to find sweet green mangoes where I live but I’m curious as to why you haven’t gone with the recipe list if it’s not online. Don’t get the reasoning. You’ve mentioned the book already. Sorry, just curious.

    • saucygander 10 March 2014 at 5:10 pm Reply

      Do you mean linking to the list of recipes from the book if that is available online? or something else? I just didn’t think of it, was more thinking about copyright law…how boring am I?

  16. Liz 10 March 2014 at 5:04 pm Reply

    yay! so pretty–all of it. And liking the armchair travel links. Green mango salad sounds really good right about now.

  17. laurasmess 10 March 2014 at 7:26 pm Reply

    This is such an awesome post. I’ve never seen mangoes budding before… gorgeous pics and links. I’ve made a green mango salad a few times, so delicious… particularly with adequate amounts of chilli and fried shallots. Your version looks gorgeous, thanks for all the recipe links. I have a great recipe from a Delicious cookbook I bought a few years ago… has fresh crab meat in it. SO yum! x

  18. Noony 10 March 2014 at 11:56 pm Reply

    I love my mother’s version of this recipe. It’s very similar to yours, judging by the photograph anyway. I would eat it all the time, but it’s difficult to find green mangoes (I use the sour kind) outside of the international market. So interesting to see other people explore this recipe!

  19. Mary Frances 11 March 2014 at 9:04 am Reply

    This looks so fresh and full of exciting flavors! Perfect for welcoming spring.

  20. Karen 11 March 2014 at 11:43 pm Reply

    The way you described the salad, it sounds like something I would enjoy on a hot afternoon.

  21. mireia badia 12 March 2014 at 7:40 am Reply

    I love mango and I would love to have that recipe!!!

    • saucygander 17 March 2014 at 2:48 pm Reply

      Hello Mireia, I will send the recipe today, sorry for the delay, work was frantic last week!

  22. tinywhitecottage 12 March 2014 at 3:55 pm Reply

    Lovely post saucy! Your ingredients are so fresh and flavorful. I can almost taste the flavors from your beautiful photographs.

  23. […] Saucy @ Saucy Gander […]

  24. […] Let’s smack our foreheads in unison. She did, however, cleverly invoked Dr. Seuss in her Burmese Green Mango post. Me? Nada! And I work in an elementary […]

  25. polianthus 16 March 2014 at 8:40 am Reply

    Beatiful shots, I love green mango salad, only know and make the Thai version though, which I really enjoy, although I always think its lots of work, which of course it isnt really. I will check out your cookbook recommendation. I don’t have a cambodian cookbook yet, and as I do have an American one, a flavours of africa one, a brasilian one, but nothing with a CA – like Canada for example, I am missing a letter, my next letter on is Columbia. That means I must be allowed to get myself a cambodian book right?

    • saucygander 17 March 2014 at 2:50 pm Reply

      Oh of course, any excuse for a cookbook! I’d also love to know if you find a good Columbian cookbook, as I know very little about its cuisine.

      • polianthus 17 March 2014 at 6:48 pm

        I have a columbian cookbook that I think looks pretty good, I ll ferret out the information for you – it’s in the other room πŸ™‚ – no photos though.

      • saucygander 17 March 2014 at 8:11 pm

        It would be great if you can tell me the book’s name, thanks! πŸ˜€

      • polianthus 17 March 2014 at 8:59 pm

        I will – the book is being shy though, I have just looked through the bookcase and I found – mongolian, uzbek, armenia, iranian, iraqi, grenadan, trinidad and tobago (great book that one if you need one for the islands, love the green sauce), austrian, brasilian and various african cookbooks and loads of “howto be a better manager books” BUT I couldnt spot the columbia one, must be hiding out next to the bed where I drag them to read at night. I will let you know as soon as it appears. πŸ™‚

      • saucygander 18 March 2014 at 7:09 am

        Wow you have an amazing book collection! Are you going to write a blog post about them? While it would give us all cookbook envy, we would also discover new books we can try to find.
        And thanks re Columbian book!

  26. polianthus 16 March 2014 at 8:41 am Reply

    Cambodia?? where did that come from, Burma Burma – have always wanted to go there too since the age of 10…, but am never totally confident about travel safety.

    • saucygander 17 March 2014 at 2:53 pm Reply

      I know what you mean about travel safety, though it looks like a beautiful country to visit so I am very tempted!

  27. Le Petit Artichaut 18 March 2014 at 5:23 am Reply

    This looks absolutely wonderful! I DO want to try it if you rustle up the recipe πŸ™‚

  28. polianthus 18 March 2014 at 8:43 am Reply

    columbian cookbook hiding in bedside bookcase: under vegetarian indian (great kidney bean recipe in that one) and on top of a book on Hawaiin cooking ( great tofu recipe in that one) – secrets of colombian cooking Patricia McCausland-Gallo: (you dont have to get it there of course, but it links thru to the reviews. Another one I really recommend is
    Sweet Hands: Island Cooking from Trinidad and Tobago Paperback
    by Ramin Ganeshram (Author) , Jean-Paul Vellotti (Photographer) , Molly O’Neill (Foreword)
    Happy browsing. Oh and a good Indian one (the exact region within India escapes me sorry, is Prashad (restaurant in the UK) and a GREAT vegetarian indian with detailed recipes
    Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking Hardcover
    by Yamuna Devi (Author) , David Baird (Illustrator)
    Ok I will stop now πŸ™‚ have fun Poli

  29. chefceaser 18 March 2014 at 7:23 pm Reply

    I like this!

  30. DetoxMama 6 April 2014 at 10:40 pm Reply

    Yum! Looks and sounds fantastic!

  31. Michael Allan 18 September 2019 at 8:19 am Reply

    I have her Burma cookbook and would love to get this recipe on my computer to have when I travel. Fact is I also have her Hot Sour Salty Sweet and Persia cookbooks. Her recipes that I’ve tried come out perfect. Although we like spicy sometimes I have to adjust the heat like the Tart-Sweet Chile-Garlic Sauce from Burma. I am just a family cook and wouldn’t publish it.
    Happy cooking

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