The surprising secret ingredient for this goat-cheese mango salad is saffron-syrup. But where do these kind of ideas come from? Well, the impulse came from a pop-up store of Belgian saffron, a saffron producer in the Antwerp Kempen. It was completely new to me that this exotic spice could also be grown in the Belgian climate. And then make syrup out of it?! For sure something we had to try!
About saffron and saffron syrup
What is saffron and where does it come from?
Saffron is one of the most expensive – if not the most expensive – spices around the world. These thin red threads are actually the pistils of the saffron crocus. This is indeed a type of crocus, a flower, that is traditionally grown in Iran. Harvesting saffron is a manual task. And when you know that you need about 150,000 flowers for 1 kilogram of saffron, you immediately understand why this is also called red gold.
One good quality saffron thread is enough to turn 1 liter of warm water golden yellow. We have to emphasise good quality here. There is also a lot of inferior quality on the market. So pay attention when you see “bargains” at very lucrative prices! This might be a trap.
The aroma of saffron is reminiscent of honey. Not surprising when you know that it comes from the crocus flower. The story of the flowers and the bees should not be further explained here.
But how about Belgian saffron?
The center of global saffron production is in Iran, where 90% of world production is grown. Most quantities are grown in the region between Spain and Kashmir in India. But there are also smaller niche growers in other regions, including the Antwerp Kempen in Belgium!
And as usual, the saffron cultivation in the Antwerp Kempen is rather a coincidence. According to the motto "just give it a try!”. Marc's first harvest was surprisingly good, and when Linda wins a prize with “saffrocate”, an original advocate recipe based on saffron, the heat was on. You can read the whole story on their website “Belgian saffron” (in Dutch, but translation tools are quite good meanwhile). Their cultivation is also sustainable and you can even spend the night on their saffron farm.
And as you can already guess, saffron syrup is one of the products they sell. Definitely give it a try!
Alternatives for saffron syrup in this goat-cheese mango salad
Of course, saffron syrup is a niche product, and most probably you might not be able to buy it. So alternatively you might use maple syrup or agave syrup. Both harmonize also very well with the mango and the goat cheese. So they are good second best alternatives to the saffron syrup.
How to peel a mango?
Most preparation for this goat-cheese mango salad with saffron-syrup is probably cutting the mango. But what is the best way to cut such a large fruit? And how much mango do you get from one fruit?
Don't try to cut a mango like an apple or pear. It is not going to work! In the middle of the mango is a very hard and long pit. You can't get through that with a knife. And it's also not like an avocado. There you cut with your knife up to the hard pit. And then you can remove the pulp nicely from the pit with a simple twist. Unfortunately, the pulp is stuck to the pit, and this does not work either.
Fortunately, there are efficient ways to get the pulp of the mango. I always peel the mango first with a vegetable peeler. Then I cut the mango lengthwise beside of the pit. Then I have three parts, the two sides and the piece with the pit. The sides can then be nicely cut into cubes or strips. After that you can cut off the remains of the pit. Make sure to always cut away from your supporting hand! This way you avoid injuring a finger or thumb unnecessarily if your knife suddenly slides out for one reason or another.
An alternative method method is not to peel the mango and cut directly along the elongated pit. Then you can cut the pulp and turn the peel inside out. You can then remove the mango cubes easily from the peel.
Watch videos for peeling the mango for the goat-cheese mango salad with saffron-syrup
Of course, a video is worth a thousand words. Here are some good videos explaining how to cut a mango:
- How to cut a mango (with video) (simply recipes)
- How to cut a mango (Great British chefs)
- Three different ways to cut a mango (ambitious kitchen)
- Two easy ways to cut a mango (bowlofdelicious)
- Mangohack - how to cut a mango in a minute (Lifehack)
How much does a mango weigh?
You have mangoes in many different sizes, ranging from 200 grams to even a kilogram. Most of the ones you will find in the store will weigh between 500 grams and 700 grams. You can count on about 150 grams for the skin and the kernel together. So assume that you can get about 400-500 grams of flesh from a mango. So you can make about four salads with one normal sized mango.
Saffron is expensive, so keep it for special occasions. But in our series of surprising combinations we also have two original recipes with this red gold:
We love surprising pairing on surprising.recipes. So be sure to find some more inspiration in the following surprising.salads:
- Sky-scraping Waldorf salad
- Chicory-apple salad with smoked salmon
- Belgian endives and arugula salad with blood sausages
- Tasty lukewarm chickpea salad
- Chicory salad with autumn fruits
If you speak Dutch, you can find the Dutch version of this recipe on gerechtenweb.blog.