July 25th, 2007

Mango: The comfort fruit

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Once during my brief stint in culinary school I applied for an internship at a New York food website. As a test, they asked me to write about a fruit or vegetable. I chose the mango and deemed it my comfort fruit. I wrote of memories of hot beach days biting into a ripe mango and licking its juice off my hands and forearms where it dripped as I ate the fruit. And the many times when my brother and I bought sliced green mango with salt and lime juice in little plastic bags from street carts in Bogotá.

To me, a mango’s greatest quality is its versatility. You can eat it green or ripe and everything in between. Pair it with salty foods or use it in desserts. Better yet, enjoy it alone or with a little salt and lime if green.

At the recent International Mango Festival at Fairchild, I got my dose of mango fun. It was so hot on that Sunday, I felt like I was quickly melting after only a few seconds standing outside — perfect weather for mango eating although a few degrees lower might have been good.

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First order of the day: eat. We tried two of the food vendors and were not too impressed by either, although the second dish we tried, a grilled chicken skewer which we bought at Fairchild’s cafe had a great tangy and sweet mango BBQ sauce. Next year it’d be nice to see more food vendors around.

Sweating as we were, we decided to skip the seemingly endless line to taste the different varieties of mangoes thinking we’d come back after going to a cooking demo with much-needed AC in which Chef Johnson Teh of Lan PanAsian showed us how to make a green mango salad (recipe at the end of this post).

But later was too late. The mango tasting table was gone and by then we were too exhausted from the earlier hours in the heat to do anything else but go home and crash. However, I did get to see the many varieties of my comfort fruit displayed for a later auction and bought three different varieties to take home. Lessons learned: Next year I’ll go earlier. Less sun and hopefully more room to enjoy all the festival’s offerings, but it’s definitely a Miami must-try.

For more mango ideas, try this useful mango site or visit mango&lime’s recipe section (I never realized how many mango recipes I’ve posted on this blog; it must be subconscious). Also check out Cooking with Amy’s post on the mango festival (it’s nice to see a California blogger write about a Miami event).

Now here’s Chef Teh’s recipe.


Green Mango Salad
Serves 4
By Chef Johnson Teh of Lan PanAsian

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2-3 green mangos, preferably not fibrous
1/2 red bell pepper, in fine dice
1/2 pound chicken, poached and shredded
1 handful of fresh mint leaves, finely sliced

For the dressing:

1/4 cup fish sauce
3 limes, juiced
3 tbspoons brown sugar

Preparations:

Wash and peel the mangoes with a vegetable peeler. Using a mandolin, shred the mango carefully, avoiding the pit. Rinse the shredded mango in ice water and drain in a colander.

Mix the dressing ingredients in a bowl until the sugar is dissolved.

In a large non-reactive bowl, add the mango, red pepper, 3/4 of the mint and the dressing. Toss gently.

Serve on a platter and garnish with the chicken and the remaining mint.

[tags] International Mango Festival, Fairchild Tropical Garden, mangoes [/tags]

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5 Responses to “Mango: The comfort fruit”

  1. There’s a mango convention?! How do I get in on these things? That’s awesome!

  2. $20 for a mango festival DURING MANGO SEASON! Only in Miami, Paula.

  3. Paula I wish I had a chance to meet you during the festival. It was amazing. July in Coral Gables is too hot for me, but there were so many wonderful managoes to see, try and buy. I completely agree with you, mangoes ARE comfort food. The sweetness and color alone cheer me up!

  4. Danny – And the $20 don’t get you any mango. But how could mango&lime NOT go to the mango festival??? It’s a business expense. :)

    Amy – Let me know next time you’re in town. Maybe we can go on some dining excursions.

  5. […] Last year, a fellow blogger questioned my spending $20 to go see mangos during mango season. In these difficult times, $20 might be a hard to spend, but for mango lovers it may worthwhile. Plus I really like Fairchild. If you plan to attend, here are a few tips based on my experience last year. […]

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