Vietnamese mango salad (gỏi xoài) is a vibrant dish featuring green mangoes, shrimp, and is highlighted with fresh herbs like mint, thai basil and cilantro. It’s a mouth-watering combination of sweet, sour, salty with lots of contrasts in texture.
Disclaimer: this is supposed to be a very simple salad. The one we’re making here has a bit of extras to make it fancier. But stripped down, you can just mix together mangoes, dried shrimp, cilantro and salad dressing.
Also, there’s no fixed combo of herbs or veggies neither. Use whichever of these herbs you have on hand, add or don’t add cucumbers. Substitute bell peppers for the carrots for color. You get the picture.
Admittedly the mangoes I used here are obviously not “green”–and that’s okay! These are Kent mangoes and they appear yellow even when unripe. Kents are less fibrous, so a great choice for salad when they’re available in the summer.
If you can’t find Kent, the other commonly available mango varieties from Mexico or Thailand will do just fine. There’s a common variety of mango available from India too. This one’s really green looking, more sour than the others (maybe you’re into that!) and is available year-round.
In Vietnam, lots of mangos varieties are available for making salad with. One type is xoài tượng, weighing in at about 2-4 pounds and about the size of a papaya.
How to Devein and Prepare Shrimp
Buy headless shrimp with the tail on. If you’re buying frozen shrimp, defrost by soaking in water. Choose a size labeled 36/40 or 31/35. These numbers refer to the number of shrimp in a pound (e.g. 36/40 means 36 to 40 shrimp in one pound).
Dry then devein the shrimp. This “vein” is the intestinal tract. Intestinal tract = poop. Lots of people don’t care and leave it in, and will call you a pansy for removing it. I say, let them eat what they want, but I’m deveining my shrimp.
In one of my older recipes for gỏi cuốn (Vietnamese spring rolls), I painstakingly deveined by splitting the shrimp along the entire body with a knife. Luckily I found a much quicker way to do this: by making a small cut in the shrimp’s back towards the head then just pulling the vein out.
Here’s 40 seconds of unadulterated (and silent) shrimp deveining:
Then boil water with some 1/2 teaspoons salt until it hits a boil. Drop in the pound of shrimp in and let it hit a boil again. When they turn slightly pink, drain and put it over ice to stop it from cooking any further.
Fry up Shrimp Chips
Those puffy crackers in the pictures are called bánh phồng tôm, or shrimp chips. These come packaged in stacks of small dry disks which expand about 4x in size when you throw em in the fryer.
You can find them mostly in Vietnamese supermarkets. It’s quite magical to see the transformation of these when cooked!
“Roast” the Peanuts
If you are buying raw peanuts, you gotta toast them before crushing for use as a topping since it changes and intensifies the flavor. Adding raw peanuts to this don’t do it any good.
A much quicker method to toast peanuts is to use the microwave. Fill a microwave-safe bowl with 1 layer of peanuts (not so crowded that they stack). Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir. Repeat this process for about 2 minutes for 1/2 cup of peanuts until they are ‘roasted’.
They’ll look a bit browned and crunchy. They come out tasting exactly the same as if you were to babysit these roasting in an oven–which you can do if you want a slower process you can check in on every few minutes.
Pickle the Vegetables
You can follow my recipe to make the pickled carrots and daikon ahead of time. This versatile jar of Vietnamese pickles goes with a lot of dishes so you can stash it in the fridge for whenever the need arises.
But in a pinch, you can make a quick pickle to eat in about an hour. Note that the taste won’t be exactly the same, but it will do!
Just combine enough to cover the veggies: 1 part sugar, 1 part vinegar, and 1 part water. Then soak the julienned veggies in it for about an hour. Add the cucumber towards the last half so it doesn’t get too soggy.
The Salad Dressing
The dressing for this is almost the same exact recipe I have for my Vietnamese Dipping Fish Sauce Recipe (nước chấm), but this one is a little bit higher on the water ratio.
Feel free to play around with the ratios to match how you like it to taste though.
What is green mango?
Green mangoes are typically unripe mangoes. They have a sour taste to them because they are unripe and are good for salads. Lots of cultures (including Vietnamese) tend to eat green mangoes with a salt and chile solution, which helps dampen the sourness of the fruit, and creates a new tasty treat, really.
How do you peel a green mango?
I like to use a vegetable peeler to peel green mangoes because it’s the easiest and safest option.
How do you julienne green mangoes?
After you peel the mango, lay it on its side and cut the tail end off. Use a mandolin slicer and cut-proof gloves to make thin slices. After you have your slices, julienne the thin slices to make matchsticks of green mango. Some mandolin slicers also have a julienne attachment, too.
- 1 large unripened mango about 1.5 pounds with the seed, julienned
- 1 carrot mainly for color, julienned
- 1 cup daikon julienned
- 1 cucumber seeded and julienned
- 1/2 pound medium shrimp 31/35 or 36/40 size
- red onion raw and thinly sliced (optional)
Herbs & Garnish (all optional)
- shrimp chips
- deep fried shallots
- roasted peanuts crushed
- mint thai basil, cilantro, stems removed and roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup fish sauce
- 1/3 cup lime juice
- 1/2 cup water
- sliced Thai chiles
Prepare the mango and veggies
- Peel mangoes and veggies.
- Remove seeds from cucumber and mango, then julienne everything.
Make a quick pickle
- If you don't already have pickled daikon and carrots ready, make a quick pickle. Mix equal parts water, vinegar, and sugar in a large bowl, enough to cover the veggies.
- Add carrots and daikon to the bowl for 40 minutes.
- Add cucumbers to the bowl for the last 20 minutes. Drain when ready to mix the salad.
Prepare the shrimp
- Defrost frozen shrimp in water, dry, then devein
- Bring a pot of water with 1 tsp salt to a boil on high heat.
- Add shrimp until they turn slightly pink, then drain and put over ice to prevent it from cooking further. Remove shrimp shells and tails.
Toss & garnish
- Mix ingredients for the salad dressing.
- Mix all ingredients, add dressing to taste, and serve and enjoy immediately.