I love the taste of fresh, ripe mango but getting to the juicy flesh around the almond-shaped seed can be daunting. I have found a wonderful tool to simplify the somewhat arduous task of using fresh mango in your kitchen. Let me preface by first saying you can find refrigerated canned mango slices in many groceries and markets if owning another kitchen gadget is less than appealing.
Before my mango cutter, I relied on a small bird's beak knife with its curved blade to simplify cutting around the giant seed in the middle of the mango. Then I used a less pointed knife to cut through the flesh, but not through the skin, in diagonals across the mango before scooping the little cubes out with a spoon.
Alternatively, they could be served as a drippy snack by turning the skin inside out after making the cuts a half inch apart then picking off the chunks of flesh to enjoy. I love to include chunks of mango in a fresh fruit salad. The salad is a fat free alternative to heavier desserts and almost as satisfying as the fruit pies we love at our house. The mango chunks have a way of making the salad a little more special.
The mango pairs well with all kinds of berries and the multiple combinations make great little bursts of flavor and texture. It also pairs well with ginger and coconut. Try some thin slices of crystallized ginger or a sprinkle of flaked coconut. We've found the mangos reasonably priced recently and they satisfy our appetites for fresh fruit.
Mango chunks and slices can stand alone as a simple light dessert. One mango with its two halves is just right for the two of us. The mango with or without other fruit combinations hardly needs a dressing. If eating the mango plain, I like to squeeze a little lime juice over it. The mango and fruit or berry combo could be lightly dressed with a little citrus juice and/or honey as the mango is super juicy.
Choose one addition but not too many as the flavor of the mango provides plenty of tropical flavor. It is no wonder it is the most widely eaten fruit in the world even ahead of the apple. This time of year a little garnish of fresh mint is nice or the leaves can be finely minced and incorporated into the mixture.
Aside from fruit salad and snacking, you might enjoy mango smoothies or my favorite mango salsa. It is easy to make and is a great accompaniment to fish and grilled chicken. I like it with salmon, red snapper and halibut. I haven't tried it with fresh fried catfish or crappie yet but hopefully soon. Grilled trout would be great with it as well. We don't grow the mangos locally, but we do have mighty good fish in our Oklahoma waters to serve with mango salsa.
Back to that mango tool — the Oxo people have created another great device for cooks. It is so easy to use and works of all kinds of mangos, even the skinnier Ataulfo variety. The cutter comes with a clever guard for its very sharp cutting edges so you are less likely to get injured when getting it out of the drawer. Like other tools made by this company, the handles are user-friendly.
According to Chelsea Green's book “Whole Foods Companion,” choose firm heavy fruits that yield evenly to pressure and feel like a perfect avocado. Avoid any with blemishes. Green skins indicate fruit will not fully ripen while black-spotted skins indicate over ripe fruit. Mangos should not be kept in paper bags as their skins give off large amounts of ethylene gas and become over ripe too quickly. You can salvage the juice in an over ripe mango by cutting off the stem end and squeezing it to extract the juice.
If you enjoy mangos, getting the mango cutter is worth the investment. I don't own stock in OXO, but I am mighty grateful for its clever work in creating this tool. Mango lovers should be careful not to overindulge as folks who are sensitive to poison oak, ivy and sumac could have a reaction. I am highly allergic to these plants, but so far, I have not had a reaction. According to Green's book, the mango is a relative of these poisonous plants. Like other foods we enjoy, moderation is the key to enjoying the mango.
This is one of those recipes that you can vary the amount of according to your taste. One mango makes enough to accompany up to 4 servings of grilled meats and fish or provide a quick side kick to a slice of breakfast ham or sausage. City Slickers may want to use less jalapeno pepper or a mild
1 mango, cut into small cubes
½ to 1 jalapeno, minced
¼ cup chopped sweet or purple onion
2 tablespoon red sweet pepper cut in small 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons to 1/4 cup chopped cilantro