Mangoes will forever remain for me an exotic fruit with delicious proustian associations of when I was a child growing up in the Indian Subcontinent. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem ‘right’ to be buying mangoes in Italy. So I really do not know how I came up with this fish salad … ooops, sorry … ‘seafood’ salad, one that my sister, remember?, who the likes seafood but not ‘fish’ fish, would thoroughly approve of and like. And it’s not as if mangoes are really easy to come by here, even though supermarkets have been selling them for over ten years now. Maybe I was feeling in an exotic mood, who knows.
Here is what is needed: lamb’s lettuce, king prawns, mango, olive oil, balsamic vinegar. Quite straightforward to prepare.
Here are the king prawns I bought fresh from the fishmonger’s and very expensive. (I noticed that something similar cost a lot less at a supermarket in London but upon closer inspection discovered that the prawns had been frozen and then defrosted and weren’t even fished in British waters – that would explain it.) I don’t think frozen prawns would work with this dish … the texture would be too ‘rubbery’.
Here are the king prawns shelled and deveined … please do not throw away the shells!
Put the shells in a saucepan and turn on the heat. Their colour will change and go orange (they will also release quite the aroma!). Pour enough water over them to cover them completely.
Let this prawn-shell stock cook away for a good half hour … adding more water if needed.
Then, using a sieve, pour the liquid into a glass container. Please concentrate, this is the trickiest part of the recipe. If you’re not careful, and this has happened to me more than once, you might just ‘throw’ the prawn shells into the sieve and … that way also throw away the precious stock!!!
Now is the time to throw away the prawn shells. Keep the stock/liquid and put the prawns inside this liquid until it’s time to cook them. It will stop them from drying out too much.
In the meantime, you can get the salad going.
Here is the lamb’s lettuce …
Make the vinaigrette: 2 parts olive oil, 1 part balsamic vinegar and a good stir …
Peel the mango and slice it up …
Get another saucepan. Pour the liquid into and turn on the heat. Rule of thumb: prawns and shrimp should always be cooked in HOT liquids, not cold. And for a very short time …. maybe a couple of minutes, depending on their size. Otherwise they go all rubbery and horrible and are an insult to gastronomic ‘texture’ and you may as well play ping pong with them.
The stock will confer a very subtle but tangible flavour to the prawns …
Remove them with a slotted spoon and allow to cool a little …
TIME TO ASSEMBLE
What pretty colours! How can one resist? Oooh and by the way, you can use strawberries instead of mango, also very very pretty to look at!