Recipe: Tangerine-Avocado Salsa

6 Feb

Happy Chap Goh Meh! It’s the 15th and final day of Chinese New Year festivating. In Malaysia, the day is marked with the ceremonial tossing of tangerines into the ocean (or other large body of water) by single women in search of suitors. The tradition began in Penang, where good Chinese girls were sequestered away from the prying eyes of men, and only allowed outside on the last day of the new celebration; the man who found your tangerine was fated to be your husband. Modern Malaysian girls have taken fate into their own hands, and usually write their names and cell phone numbers on the tangerines. Personally, I think it’s just an excuse to get rid of all of the tangerines you receive during the Spring Festival (as Chinese New Year is called). Since tangerines symbolize gold and prosperity, and they don’t cost much, they’re a traditional gift of the season. I’m not even Chinese, and I still managed to get two or three bags.

If Tom were an unmarried Chinese Malaysian girl, this is what he'd be using to get dates.

So, what to do with all these tangerines? I’m not single, so I’m not going to be throwing them in Lake Titiwangsa. I use up some of them in this salsa. The sweetness and juiciness of the tangerine contrasts nicely with the creamy avocado, and makes for a refreshing condiment while tomatoes are out of season. If you don’t have a surplus of tangerines, you can substitute any other sweet citrus fruit; I think blood oranges would be particularly tasty, or maybe those Cara Cara oranges. I served it with pan-fried grouper, but it would be delicious with any sort of grilled fish, shrimp, or even chicken breast.

Tangerine-Avocado Salsa (serves 2)


3 large tangerines (yields about 1 cup)
1 Haas avocado
Small bunch of cilantro, or to taste
1/2 lime, juiced
1 small shallot (1/2 large)
1 scallion
Salt, to taste


  1. Peel and dice the tangerines and avocado.
  2. Mince the shallot, scallion, and cilantro.
  3. Combine all ingredients with the lime juice and add salt to taste. Serve immediately.



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