Mango Know-How

Do you see mangos at the store and want to pick them up but find them a little mysterious? How do you cut them? What do you do with them beyond eating them on their own? At one time I had wondered, too, until I found some helpful info from, naturally, the National Mango Board. There is an association for practically every food item and, while their purpose is to promote the food or growers, they also have a lot of handy info and often recipes.

The mango is the quintessential mild, sweet flavor of the tropics. In fact, it’s only at home in a tropical climate, so most of the mangos sold in the United States come from Mexico, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Guatemala, and Haiti. Luckily, mangos have two seasons—one in the spring/summer and one in the fall/winter, providing year-round availability so it’s easy to get a taste of the tropics.

They are good for us, too. At around 100 calories, a one-cup serving of sliced mango provides 76 percent of your daily vitamin C, 25 percent of your daily vitamin A, and 12 percent of your daily fiber. It’s also a good source of folate, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, magnesium, and potassium, and it contains antioxidant phenols and beta-carotene. Mango is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

Selecting/Storing: Don’t judge a mango by its color. Choose based on firmness and when you plan to eat it. Squeeze gently—a ripe mango will “give” slightly and will sometimes have a fruity aroma at the stem end. Firm mangos will continue to ripen at room temperature, becoming sweeter and softer over several days. If you want to speed up ripening, put mangos in a paper bag at room temperature. Once ripe, they can be stored for up to five days in the refrigerator. Peeled and cubed will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for up to six months.

How To Cut a Mango:

A mango has one long, flat seed in the center of the fruit. Once you learn how to work around the seed, the rest is easy.

1. Always wash mangos before cutting. Stand the mango on your cutting board. Place your knife about ¼ inch from the widest center line and cut down through the mango on both sides. The resulting ovals of mango flesh are known as the cheeks. What’s left in the middle is mostly the mango seed. (I have found you can get a little more fruit off the ends of the middle section, too; just feel if your knife yields at the seed or cuts through the soft flesh of the fruit.)

 

2. Cut parallel slices into the mango flesh, being careful not to cut through the skin. Turn the mango cheek ¼ rotation and cut another set of parallel slices to make a checkerboard pattern.

 

3. Either turn the scored mango cheek inside out by pushing the skin up from underneath and scrape the mango chunks off of the skin with a knife, or spoon or scoop them out with spoon while holding in hand. (You can also check out these steps in a video here.)

 

Serving: Eat sliced mango on its own or in a range of dishes from savory to sweet. Dip cubes in yogurt. Try mango in smoothies, toss chunks into green or fruit salads, salsas, and chutneys. A dash of salt, lime juice, or chili powder makes for a unique flavor. The mango’s natural tenderizing properties make it a perfect ingredient for marinades. Whip up salsas and top fish, chicken, or pork with mango chutney. For a fresh light lunch or dinner, check out the following recipe, courtesy of The National Mango Board. For a cool treat, freeze puréed fresh cut mango in ice cube trays or mix chopped mango with vanilla frozen yogurt.

 

Mango Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Makes 4 Servings

½ tablespoon sesame oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into small pieces
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2½ tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
½ tablespoon minced fresh lemongrass
1 large ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and chopped; divided
12 small butter lettuce leaves
¼ cup chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons sliced green onion tops
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro

1. Heat sesame oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned. Stir in soy sauce, vinegar, honey, ginger, and lemongrass. Finely chop half the mango and add to the skillet.

2. Cook for 5 minutes or until sauce is very thick; let cool.

3. Spoon chicken into lettuce leaves and top each with remaining mango, bell pepper, green onion, and cilantro.

Nutrition Info Mango Chicken Lettuce Wraps (per serving): CALORIES 225; FAT 3g; CHOL 66mg; SODIUM 840mg; CARB 21g; FIBER 2g; PROTEIN 28g

​All photos ©2017 National Mango Board and used by permission of the National Mango Board. All rights reserved.

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Mary Subialka
Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her school-age son, who used to eat beets and Indian food, will one day again think of real food as more than a means to a treat—and later share this with his younger brother.