What is Mango?
Mango is a large tropical stone fruit.
I have eaten mango all my life. Despite knowing that it has a large pit in the centre, I never really thought of it as a stone fruit or placed it in the same category as plums and peaches.
Mangos are incredibly versatile. Its exterior skin comes in red, yellow, orange, purple and/or with yellow or orange coloured flesh. It can be eaten unripe or ripe, raw or cooked and in sweet or savoury dishes.
Types of Mangos
There is an estimate of about 350 varieties of mangos that are commercially grown around the world. This would only mean that there are just as many that we wouldn’t be able to get our hands on.
Growing up in Southeast Asia, I can categorically tell you that we all have very different mangos preferences. It does also come down to how we wish to consume the fruit and for what purpose.
In the United States, the most popular mango is the Tommy Atkins. It is slightly tart with sweet notes. Varieties such as the Honey, Francis or Haden are also widely consumed.
The Indian mangos are also widely available with the mild tasting Alphonse being the most popular.
In Australia, the R2E2 (we call it the Star Wars mango!) is one of the most sought-after mangos. They are large with a deep yellow colour and almost dense texture. It is also super sweet with no hints of sour. In fact, the R2E2 mango is also the most popular mango variety in Vietnam.
This is closely followed by the Kensington Pride or Calypso mango which is more in tune with the American Tommy Atkins.
Southeast Asians love to eat green mango, which are usually long and oblong in shape. Green mango is essentially unripe mango, and it is crunchy, some times incredibly sour and even nutty.
We love to eat green mangos with dipping sauces. Very rarely would we eat it on its own. Some of the popular dipping sauces include sweet fish sauce, shrimp paste with dark caramel soy or chilli and salt.
I use to love being able to buy pre-cut green mango from street hawkers. They would slice them up, put them in a small clear plastic bag and a skewer. You would then be invited to choose the sauce of your choice to pour over the mango.
Why Is Mango Called King of Fruits?
In India, the humble mango is revered and commonly known as the “King of Fruits”.
Yes, yes Malaysians and Singaporeans, pipe down! We know the “King of Fruits” is actually the durian. But I think the mango was given this accolade first.
Mangos have been cultivated in the warm climates of India for over 4000 years. Evidence of the mango making its way to Asia, Africa, and South America can be traced back to the 16th century while in North America, it was found in the mid-19th century.
The mango held great powers back in the day. They were used as gifts to declare one’s undying love right through being used as a diplomatic tool to gain favours or simply impress.
I am reminded of the scene from the movie Victoria & Abdul when the illustrious Dame Judi Dench who played Queen Victoria, received a mango in a decorative case as a gift from India.
Unfortunately, her enthusiasm and curiosity to try this exotic fruit was squashed when her Indian adviser, Abdul, declared the mango unfit for consumption. It was off.
A wonderful attempt at diplomacy so quickly dampened and turned into an insult in a matter of seconds!
When Is Mango in Season?
Mangos are summer fruits of which you’ll find them in abundance. I am always prompted that summer has finally arrived when mango appear at my grocer’s.
However, you can get imported mangos, especially from countries that grow it all year round. These are of course always a tad more expensive but sometimes desperate times calls for desperate measures!
How to Choose Mango?
The colour of the mango skin is not an indicator of how ripe or sweet they are.
The best way to choose a mango is to feel it and give it a gentle press. The more give it has, the softer the flesh.
We all eat mangos slightly differently. I like my mangos firm as I find the overly soft flesh too mushy. If I use mangos for a salad, they have to be firm; otherwise, they won’t withstand the mixing and tossing.
Can Mango Be Frozen?
Yes, they sure can! It is one of the best fruits to freeze as it withstands the defrosting process quite well.
When mangos are really cheap, I get a whole tray to freeze so that I can always have some mangos on hand during the offseason. I use them mostly to make smoothies or salad dressings.
Just cut out the 2 cheeks, peel, lay them flat on a baking tray and freeze. You can remove them afterwards and put them in zip lock bags. Or you can simply cube them up too, so they are ready to be put into the blender for smoothies.
I don’t recommend using frozen mangos to be eaten as is for salads. It wouldn’t be fresh enough, and you won’t get that creamy or bouncy texture required for a fresh recipe.
Will Mango Ripen After Being Picked?
Yes, they will. If you don’t need your mango until a few days down the track, you might like to pick a slightly firmer fruit.
What Does Mango Taste Like?
Flavour: Depending on the variety, it can range from super sweet to super sour. The more popular varieties tend to be sweet with a tinge of tartness.
Some other descriptive words include floral, honey, citrusy and even pine.
Those who prefer the green variety, they can still be incredibly sour, which is why they are eaten with dipping sauces. Some green mango can be woody in flavour with not much flavour while others are a tinge of sweet with tart flavours being the predominant taste.
Texture: A good ripe mango is creamy, soft and juicy. It is also fibrous and stringy, especially if you’re eating the flesh off the pit.
Green mangos are usually crunchy as they are not ripe. They do become a bit chewy when they ripen slightly. They tend to snap off when bitten and isn’t stringy.
What Goes Well with Mango?
Fruit and Vegetables
Apple, avocado, banana, blueberry, cauliflower, chilli, coconut, dragon fruit, eggplant, feijoa, fava bean, finger lime, guava, honeydew, horseradish, kiwi, lychee, nectarine, papaya, pineapple, pomegranate, radish, rambutan, spinach, tamarind, tomato.
Herbs, Nuts and Spices
Allspice, chives, coriander, cumin, harissa, mint, peanuts.
Protein and Other
Buffalo mozzarella, crab, fish, forbidden rice, prawn, quinoa, sesame, sour cream, wild rice.
How to Use Mango in Salads?
The best way to enjoy mangos in salads are simply to eat it raw. Cut it up in cubes, bigger pieces or in whichever way takes your fancy.
They are great in salad dressings too with the ability to manipulate its viscosity to your liking. You can add ingredients such as vinegar, honey, paprika, chilli or even mustard, to name a few.
You can also puree the mango to form the base of a salad. You can even grill it to warm it up and give it that nice smokey finish.
Salad Recipes with Mango
Colourful summer mango salad recipe that is bursting with fresh, vibrant tropical flavours. Effortless to put together, the combination of sweet mangoes and toasted coconut flakes with a tangy lime dressing is utterly delicious.
Who would have thought a knobby, ugly root vegetable, sweet tropical fruits and a nasal clearing infused dressing could be so good? This Guava Salad is no simple flavour combination, and you’ll be surprised how fantastic it tastes!
Be it a special occasion or simply because you want to spoil your guests, indulge in this Lobster Tail Salad drizzled with delicious homemade mango dressing. This salad promises to be refreshing, simple yet sophisticated and downright delicious.
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