Sunday, March 27, 2011
The Hawkman's Famous Lychee Mint Salsa
Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman.
I've brought my lychee mint salsa to a variety of social events in NoMi, from fundraisers for Don Samuels to art parties for Ken Farkash, and often just regular evenings where friends meet up. Every time I bring this dish over, I leave with an empty container. Friends have bugged me incessantly for the recipe - which I don't really have handy because I am not that structured of a chef. The base recipe was something I found in my favorite cookbook, "Miami Spice," and I've added to it.
The key to lychee mint salsa is the combination of the spicy and the sweet. Hot peppers slam into the taste buds and almost knock you off of your feet. But before the heat builds up too much, the coolness of the mint and the sweetness of the lychee fruit kick in. That's got to trigger some serious endorphins in the brain because almost nobody can stop eating this stuff. It's like there's a party in your mouth and everyone's invited. Instead of bottling this and selling it, I'm providing the recipe here. Bear in mind though, that I have a higher tolerance for hot and spicy foods than most people do. The Hawkman's lychee mint salsa recipe contains...
2 cans of lychee fruit
2 cans of rambutans
(these are 20-oz. cans and obviously the fresh stuff is better when you can find it. This probably comes out to about 1.5 pounds of fresh lychees)
2 red bell peppers
1 yellow bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1 Anaheim pepper
1 poblano pepper
4 habanero peppers
4 serrano peppers
(Lately I haven't been able to find my favorite pepper, the red Fresno chili pepper, ANYWHERE. When that's available though, the mix is 4 red Fresno, 2 habanero, and 2 serrano for the hot peppers.)
1 red onion
Shallots, garlic, ginger, cilantro, mint, thyme, oregano, coarse black pepper, and honey to taste.
If using canned lychees or rambutans, drain the syrup. Peel and core them if fresh. Take the ribs and seeds out of all peppers. Finely chop lychees, peppers, onion, shallots, garlic, ginger, and fresh herbs, and mix together. Squeeze the juice from the lemon and limes.
Add honey from a plastic container shaped like a bear. It doesn't matter which brand, but I cannot overstate how important it is to have the honey come from a bear-shaped container. This is essential, and among my most deeply-held, non-religious pillars of belief, right up there with "Citizen Kane is overrated and Empire Strikes Back is a better movie," "George W. Bush was a terrible president," and "whenever possible, beer shall be served in a chilled glass." It's THAT big of a deal.
So there you have it. And the lower tolerance one has for spice, the mint or honey (from a bear-shaped container) can be used to offset the peppers.