Monday, April 20, 2009

Green Mango Salad

The first time I ate mango, I swore that I would never eat it again. As a fifth-grader, my tastes were specific (I only eat salami sub sandwiches from New York Sub on Asbury Street) and somewhat limited (I will not eat fried things, mayonnaise or salsa of any kind). Somehow, my father got his hands on a ripe mango and he and my mother dug into the fruit, exclaiming at its color and sweetness, recalling how people would sell piles of the fruit next to the roadsides during mango season in Hawaii in the early 1970's.

Watching this, I was curious, but cautious. Already the knife had sliced open the rind. Already I could smell an exotic aroma.

Tasting the mango, I was repulsed. It was not sweet like a strawberry. It was cloying and gave me a headache. No more, I thought.

Tastes, or at least preferences, change. My first week in Florida happened to fall right at the end of mango season. My mother-in-law had paper bags of the ripe fruit on her kitchen counter, brought to her by her cleaner Lenieve, whose friends had trees bowing with fruit in their backyards. I ate the mango and enjoyed it. The sweetness no longer registered as cloying. The Florida mango's yellow flesh was pleasantly soft, with an almost floral taste. Since that week, I've eaten tons of the fruit.

This weekend, I found this green mango salad recipe in this month's Food and Wine Magazine. Unlike ripe mangoes, green (or unripe) mangoes have a tangy, vegetable crunch. The mangoes must be unripe to give the salad its intended tartness and crispness. If you have mangoes at your grocery store and can tolerate a little jalapeno, I suggest that you give this a try.

Green Mango Salad
Adapted from this Doris Esther Ayola Orozco recipe at Food and Wine

2 large, unripe mangoes (they should be hard and green), peeled and cut into 2 x 1/2-inch sticks
1/2 large, sweet onion, sliced lengthwise into thin half-moon strips
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a bowl, toss all of the ingredients together. Serve immediately, or cover with plastic wrap and chill for up to an hour before serving.

Serves: 4


StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

When we moved to Florida in the 70's we had a big mango tree in our yard. My parents were delighted, but I never cared for them. (the mangoes - not my parents) When I got married and moved to our first house, there was another big tree. For years, I gave all the fruit away. One day, I tried one...and LOVED it! I was so mad at myself for wasting all of those beautiful mangoes for all those years! Now, that I'm crazy about mangoes, I don't have a tree anymore. Sigh...

Your salad looks and sounds really nice and refreshing! I've never tried unripe mangoes, but I'm game. I'm just mad I have to buy them at the store now!

Foodycat said...

Depends on the mangoes! A good Queensland or Northern Territory mango (I like the Kensington Pride) is fragrant and sweet but with the tiniest edge. Sheer heaven. The Indian Alphonse mangoes which are something of a delicacy here I find cloyingly sweet and pulpy and unpleasant.

I really like this post - your language is so evocative!

Grace said...

although i keep stubbornly trying them, mangoes have yet to grow on me. ripe mangoes, that is. i guess i should try green ones before i eschew them all. :)

muddywaters said...

I didn't eat a lot of mangoes growing up in Kansas. In fact, I didn't try fresh mango until five years ago. Now I'm mad for mangoes.

Lately, my local grocery store has been selling them 2 for 89 cents.

I didn't know they could be used before they ripened. I'll need to give green mangoes a go.

Tomorrow, I'm making black bean and mango salsa.

muddywaters said...

Prior to my Florida trip, I read Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings "Cross Creek" to get a taste of Florida. She spends several pages just talking about mangoes. Here's a taste:

". . .the mango is unique and completely superior. It may be peeled and eaten out of hand, gnawing at last on the great pit; it may be cut daintily and served just so, or with sugar and cream; or it may be made, with the help of a Jersey cow, into ice cream fit for the gods. Do not desecrate it, do not commit sacrilege, by making ice cream of the mango with ordinary city cream, not even the double whip. If you do not own a Jersey cow or have no friend who owns a jersey cow, eat your mango plain and forget the Olympus beyond your reach. But if you can lay hold of cream as yellow as June butter, so thick you must dip it from bowl or pitcher with a spoon, then crush your mangoes, add a little lemon juice and a little sugar, stir in the cream, freeze it, not in the electric icebox but in a hand churn, and be prepared to have life afterward, without mango ice cream, a trifle dull."

I appreciate her passion

Sarah said...

Sticky Gooey - Isn't it funny how some foods can be such an acquired taste? I love mangoes now, too, but it took years!

Foodycat - I wish that I could try these varieties. The Indian Alphonse taste that you describe matches my memory of that first mango I tried.

Grace - Give the green variety and try, and be prepared for a vegetable-like experience, rather than a sticky sweet experience. You may prefer the green variety.

Muddy - I have not read Cross Creek, but it just went onto my reading list! I love this passage! If only I had a Jersey cow :)