Time: 30 minutes
The mango pricers of the world really need to work out a better system. It seems that they cost either an arm and a leg (not vegan) or they go on sale with such a surplus that the employees are practically throwing them at you like dodgeballs. There is no happy medium. So this week, life gave me mangoes and I needed to make something other than mango-ade.
Enter mango fried rice! This is actually modified from a pineapple fried rice recipe that I created one day during a bout of some serious homesickness. I miss Brooklyn! I miss walking to Prospect Park and watching a cricket game or a little league game or women’s softball. I miss walking around the loop with $5,000 dollar bikes and baby carriages whizzing by. I miss the beautiful fountain in the vale, spotting birds, and checking them off my birdwatching list. Orchard Oriole, Carolina Wren, Cedar Waxwing. I never thought that leaving Brooklyn would actually mean seeing less birds.
And after all that, happily spent from sitting around watching birds and people do things, I’d walk a few blocks to 7th avenue and get something to eat. One of my favorite things in the world was the pineapple fried rice from one of the million Thai spots on the strip. Omaha has Thai restaurants, of course, but there’s nothing here that even comes close to that fried rice. I guess that is kind of what my life has been about lately, taking some of my best memories and putting them together on a plate. And so that’s what I did.
This rice is tangy and spicy, pan fried with lots of ginger, garlic, and a little crushed coriander seed, then punctuated with seared but still snappy green beans, toasty cashews and juicy bits of sweet fruit. Then you finish it off with some lime and fresh basil leaves, making the dish so fragrant and heavenly that you might be inspired to start a Mango Fried Rice food cart. I didn’t make it too oily, but the frying is definitely a part of its addictiveness (although you can feel free to cut the oil by half or so). And hey, if you do start that cart, please come see me in Omaha!
I think this is a meal in itself, what with the cashews for protein, and the fiber from the veggies and rice. But if you want, you can saute up some tofu (use the Cast Iron Stirfry method) and toss it in, or try the Asian Baked Tofu from Veganomicon.
Thai basil has a more anise-licorice flavor and would be ideal here. It’s hard to get where I live and so I’ve grown accustomed to regular old basil in my Southeast Asian cooking. A thin metal spatula works best for this, because it slips under the rice easily, and prevents sticking. If you like, you can replace the mango with pineapple, no problemo.
I’m no mango-slicing aficionado by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it’s slapstick comedy to watch me dissect one. But this is what I do: peel off the skin with a veggie peeler, stand it on it’s head and use a chef’s knife to slice off one side along the pit. Once you’ve got that side sliced off, you can lay the mango on its side for balance and slice off the rest of the fruit, getting as close to the pit as possible. Then just cut into manageable pieces, they don’t have to be perfectly uniform, you’re not on Top Chef. But if you want to do a truly pro job on the mango, try this method from The Kitchn.
And lastly, the rice has to be cold for this recipe to work correctly, otherwise it will get mushy and sticky. Many supermarkets carry frozen bags of rice for reasonable prices. I’ve made this recipe with a standard 20 oz bag of rice in mind (Whole Foods has frozen Jasmine rice, even.) But you can certainly freeze your own! Just steam it up, fluff it and place in a mesh strainer. Refrigerate the rice to cool completely, while still in the colander so that it cools quickly and evenly. Then place rice in a freezer bag and freeze until ready to use. I always keep a bag at the ready for quick weeknight meals, veggie burgers, what have you. For this recipe, you can just toss the rice in frozen. No big whoop.
Oh I lied…this is the last thing: to crush coriander seed, place in a plastic bag and roll a rolling pin across it (or a can of beans works, too.) Ok now, let’s get ricing!
3/4 cup unroasted cashews (if using roasted cashews, skip the toasting step)
6 oz green beans (about 1 1/2 cups), ends removed, sliced into 1 inch pieces
3 tablespoons peanut or canola oil, divided
1 medium red onion, diced medium
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
2 teaspoons crushed coriander seed
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 cups cold jasmine rice
3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce (tamari is gluten free, soy sauce is not)
1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce
1 tomato, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 mangos, peeled, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
15 basil leaves, chiffonade (that means rolled up and thinly sliced, but you can just chop it, too)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Fresh cilantro (optional)
Preheat a large heavy bottomed pan (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Toss in the cashews and dry toast them for about 5 minutes, flipping occasionally. They should be slightly browned in some spots, but it’s okay if they’re unevenly browned, you don’t have to be too precise about it. Transfer cashews to a large plate.
Now we’re going to sear the green beans. Turn the heat on the pan up to medium-high. Add the green beans, a scant tablespoon of oil and a dash of salt. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the beans are bright green and seared. Transfer beans to the same plate as the cashews.
Add the onions to the pan along with another tablespoon of oil and a dash of salt. Toss for about 3 minutes, until onions are slightly charred but still firm. Add the garlic, ginger, coriander and red pepper flakes, and toss for 30 seconds are so, being careful not to burn.
Add another tablespoon of oil and about half of the cold rice. Toss to coat, then add in the remaining rice, tossing once again. Cook for about 3 minutes, tossing often, until warmed through.
Add the tamari, hot sauce and tomato, and toss. Cook for another 3 minutes, until the rice has browned sufficiently and the tomato is slightly broken down.
Add the string beans and cashews, mangoes, basil leaves and lime juice. Cook just until mangoes are heated through and basil is wilted, a minute or two. Taste for salt (don’t add more tamari, just add salt if it needs it) and serve, garnished with cilantro if you like, and with a bottle of Sriracha close by.