Spicy Mango Salad and the Thai Park in Berlin
by eat in my kitchen
A small path lined with trees and dense bushes led me to one of Berlin’s most highly praised culinary hotspots which I’ve wanted to visit for ages. Last Sunday I finally made my way to the city’s famous Thai Park! The air was hot and sticky and I enjoyed the short walk in the shade, I was excited as many of my friends had told me so much about this place and its amazing food. A big meadow surrounded by a green wall of trees opened in front of me, with people sitting on blankets under little umbrellas savoring delicious looking food, playing cards or just daydreaming. It was a peaceful scene, Sunday afternoon calm.
On Sundays when the weather is nice and sunny, women from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Indonesia come to the Preußen Park in the heart of Berlin and make it their kitchen. They sit on the grass behind colourful cooling boxes, mobile grills and gas cookers and chop vegetables or fry tempura. While they offer golden fried pork belly, shrimp and dumpling sticks, the ladies chat and laugh between their mobile kitchens. On a tiny patch of grass they cook delicacies which I would hardly manage to create in my kitchen! I was astonished, by the beauty of the food and of the women, the utter satisfaction in their faces touched me. Their passion for cooking and for their traditional recipes is the reason they gather in this park thousands of kilometers away from the recipes’ origin to create the meals they grew up with and to share with people like me. I was so impressed by the quality and variety of the dishes they offered!
Needless to say that I bought lots of plates and boxes with salads, meat and fish, spring and summer rolls and dumplings. I found a little spot in the shade and enjoyed all the different dishes, flavours and combinations which I rarely use in my own kitchen. There was far too much food so we enjoyed the leftovers at home where I also came up with the idea for a mango salad with a few changes to the one I enjoyed at the park.
To begin with I didn’t have green mangos but a very ripe yellow one which I didn’t grate (the traditional way) but cut into slices. I mixed it with lots of coriander, roasted cashews and spicy red chili pepper. For the dressing I used the sesame oil I had bought for my Korean Bibimbap, soya sauce, honey, lime and lemongrass. I didn’t try to create an authentic Thai mango salad, it’s my own variation on this classic. When I want to eat the traditional one which I won’t even try to compete with, I will go to the lady in the park and ask her to prepare a portion for me, the best Thai salad I have ever had!
Spicy Mango Salad with Coriander and Roasted Cashews
For 4 people you need
ripe yellow mangos, sliced, 2
coriander, the leaves of 2 bunches
roasted cashews, chopped, a handful
For the dressing
sesame oil 2 tablespoons
sunflower oil 1 teaspoon
soya sauce 1 teaspoon
honey 1 tablespoon
freshly squeezed lime juice 1 teaspoon
zest of 1/4 lime
red chili pepper, finely chopped, 2.5cm / 1″ piece
lemongrass, finely chopped, 2.5cm / 1″ piece
a pinch of brown sugar
Whisk the ingredients for the dressing and adjust to taste.
Spread the mango and coriander leaves on 4 plates and sprinkle with the cashews and dressing.