Colleen and I are both spicy food lovers, but my heat tolerance is a bit higher than hers, and I’m more likely to push that fine line between pleasure and pain with hotter peppers and spicier food than she is. I’ve spoken of this before, confessing to injuring her a time or two in the past when my spice limit was reached, and hers was definitely breached, like with the jerk chicken the time I did it on boneless thighs instead of drumsticks.
We recently had this problem again, when I merged an Emeril Lagasse recipe for Mango Salsa (with jerk pork tenderloins) with several other recipes I had found for habanero salsas to create a Mango Habanero Salsa. Really I just added two finely diced habaneros to his recipe, which had the best base I could find.
Habanero peppers are a fruit that must be handled with care. They are the hottest of the readily available peppers, at somewhere around 10-100 times hotter than jalapenos on the Scoville Scale. And that range (10-100+) leaves an awfully large margin for error!
The first time we did this recipe, we used store bought habaneros, and the salsa was perfect! Habaneros have a spice that seems to burn differently than jalapenos, one that heats up your whole head, rather than just scorching your tongue. And the taste of habaneros lends itself extremely well to fruity mango or pineapple flavors in a salsa or sauce.
We used it as an accompaniment to some grilled John Dory fish we’d gotten at the Torrance Farmer’s Market, and both agreed that it was an excellent complement to the meal.
The second time we did it (with some grilled tilapia fish tadcos), I used home grown habaneros in the recipe, and unfortunately, it was much closer to the 100X hotter level than the 10X level, and I nearly killed her. As an endorphin junky, I was able to eat it and enjoy it, but it was indeed very nearly at that pleasure/pain line. I actually ate the rest of it myself the next day with chips and loved it, but I am aware that I am an outlier on this sort of thing…
We’ve had similar problems with jalapenos, where you could eat some like an apple one week, and others picked up the next week at the same store nearly steamed our ears off. And there doesn’t appear to be any way you can tell at the store or in a farmer’s market, or when it is hanging on the vine in your backyard.
So if you are a pepperhead and a risk-taker, and like to live life on the edge, I highly recommend this recipe. The flavors are awesome, the colors are great, and the recipe is quite easy. But if you are easily injured by spicy foods, or have to please a diverse crowd of many different tastes and spice tolerances, the habanero version is one you should probably skip, because it may or may not be edible to the average person, and you really won’t know until you have already made it. You could still make the original Emeril version without habaneros, or you could cut it down to one habanero instead of two, but it is really your call, and I hereby wash my hands of any liability if you choose to make it (but you’re way cooler in my eyes if you do it my way).
- 1 Mango, peeled and diced
- ½ Cup diced red onion
- ½ Cup diced red pepper
- ¼ Cup green onions, finely chopped
- ¼ Cup mint leaves, “chiffonaded”
- 2 Habanero peppers, finely diced (cut to one or zero, if you are concerned)
- 1 Jalapeño, diced
- 1 Lime, zested and juiced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
- Let set at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
- Serve with adult libations and liability waivers, if necessary.
I can order a “medium” dish at an authentic Thai place. That’s about where I’m at. So for me, I think I’d have to cut the habaneros down by half. I could make a mean ahi poke using this salsa. Ideas….
This salsa sounds awesome! I got a food processor for my birthday, so I can’t wait to try this out.
Also, this is just hearsay from my dad, but supposedly the smaller peppers are hotter.
As a general rule, that smaller=hotter rule seems to hold up, but don’t always count on it. The sad thing is how variable the heat can be even between otherwise similar looking peppers based on when and where and how they were grown! Makes the difference between a pleasant heat, and a barnburner…
Great recipe! I added a few things to bring down the heat and make it useable for my tacos: a
whole tomato, took out the red onions and used a yellow pepper, added 2
teaspoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of diced garlic, and 1/4 cup of
That does sound good! I do like a lot of mango and pineapple salsas.
I’m looking to use this salsa with a nice salmon filet. Do you think it will pair well, or would you recommend something else?
Hi Stacy. I’m so sorry, I missed your comment earlier. Did you try the salsa with salmon, if so, how was it? I prefer this salsa with white fish or poultry, but that is just a matter of taste. Mainly because I love the flavor of salmon so much by itself (vs. more bland white fish), that I want to be able to taste the salmon, not a salsa.
I love this recipe! I altered it just a tad bit and turned it into Mango Habanero Slaw. Just take out the mint and added a cup of shredded cabbage (or store bought if you prefer) and one tablespoon of olive oil based mayonnaise. This makes a great sandwich topper for BBQ pulled pork, especially with a nice fluffy homemade brioche bun!
Thank you for the PERFECT mango habanero salsa recipe! I’ve made it 3 times now. Love the mint and the heat, not to mention how pretty it is. We like it with salmon as it balances well with the fattiness of the salmon. I simply reserve some of the habanero and add more to taste after the flavors meld a bit to account for the variability in the heat of the peppers and it works great.
This is the best mango-habanero salsa I have made. It’s refreshing, cool with a kick, and so pretty. I love it with salmon, as it is a perfect compliment to the fatty fish. But can go with virtually any meal in the summer. Today I am making with grilled steaks. Tomorrow, I intend to use the leftovers as a topping for pulled pork tacos. I generally reserve 1 of the 2 chopped habanero peppers until after it has sat for 30 min so I can adjust heat to taste. It’s hard to tell how hot it will be in advance. Thanks for a great go-to recipe!
Wa is the expiration time?
I cut out the Mint and substituted for Cilantro due to my wife’s Hispanic heritage and it still turned out amazing we eat it at least 1 or 2 times a week with Carne Asada