Heading home from Mangoes at the Moana, I overheard a few words being exchanged between a prospective customer and the Ono Pop lady (that’s her, above, with Josh Lanthier-Welch, Ono Pop partners with his brother, Joe). What I overheard her say was “Indian pickles.” It so happens I’ve been experimenting with Indian lime pickle and I was intrigued to hear one of their Ono Pops compared to this family of powerfully piquant, salt pickles.

I turned, inserted myself into the conversation, and Josh, standing nearby, explained that they had been talking about their li hing green mango ices ($3). I had to have one. Ho! I haven’t experienced that level of pucker-up since my childhood, when we used to pick green mango and splash it with vinegar, salt and shoyu. It hurt so good; my palate didn’t know what to think. I couldn’t stop nipping at the cream-colored, li hing-flecked bar and soon was standing on the steps of the Moana, sharing with my husband. After a morning judging a recipe contest that was dominated by sweet entries, the savory treat was most welcome.

Find Ono Pops at Whole Foods Kahala, Blue Hawaii Lifestyles, Kale’s Natural Foods, Kalapawai at the Beach, Marukai, Koku Co-op, Muumuu Haven and the following farmers markets: Makeke O Maunalua, Kaiser High Schools, Saturdays; Blaisdell, Thursday evenings; Kapi’olani Community College Saturdays (when a space is available). Eat there or take a small cooler with frozen gel-packs). See www.onopops.com.

And now to the topic of the day: The simple mango salsa the judges couldn’t stop eating, made from Pirie mangoes by entrant

Cathy Passedi, repeat entrants (her mother also entered a mango kanten with a cheesecake sort of layer on cookie crust —  that was pretty darned good!)

TV Chef Lee Anne Wong, who emceed the event, said the salsa worked so well because it was so well balanced, the creamy sweetness of the Pirie mangoes played off against the heat of the chili, the tang of salt, the acid of the lemon juice. “And the mango she used was perfectly ripe. . . When all the ingredients are right, it’s perfect,” said Wong.

Cathy’s mom told me that, with Pirie, it’s important not to cut to close to the seed as the flesh becomes a little oversoft there. Pirie are smaller than Haydn and don’t yield quite as much fruit but their flavor is sublime.

A bowl of this and some chips would be nice surprise for someone coming home from a bummer day at the office.

Mango Salsa-licious

2 cups Pirie mangoes, chopped small

1/2 cup sweet onions (Maui or other), diced

1/2 cup sweet red pepper, diced

1/4 cup sweet yellow pepper, diced

3 tablespoons minced cilantro

1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1  small hot red chili pepper, seeded and minced

1/8 teaspoon red Hawaiian salt (ala’e), crushed or ground

Chop mangoes, onions, peppers and cilantro and combine in a large bowl. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate for an hour.  Serve with scoop chips or over fish …… so quick and so ono!!

Tomorrow: A fresh spirit and getting real with rice.