Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mango Bloodbath

It's winter, its cold, there has been record snowfall. It was with fond memories of summer and mango-salsa tacos in my head that I happened to notice mangoes were on sale at the supermarket. It doesn't matter how much they were. When I see a sale sign on something at the supermarket I assume its a good deal, even it it is not. Well played, supermarket. So standing there at the display I googled "how to buy a mango" to make sure I wasn't getting any duds, and just like that, I was in the mangoes.

Three mangoes, to be precise. When I got them home I was informed they needed to ripen a bit more. I then let them go maybe a day longer than they needed to. This may have made them a tad softer than they should have been when I went to cut them. I have never cut up a mango but I know that the pit (or stone) is not like other fruits, it is flat and wide. You must cut to either side. To see what I mean you can watch the video I watched:

I still did not realize just how big the stone is compared to the whole fruit. Its not just flat and wide but also tall. after cutting all the flesh away from each of my three mangoes, I put the cores (the stones still covered with some flesh that had escaped the knife) to the side. At the end of the process I stood over the sink scraping the fresh off the stones with my teeth like a lion at a gazelle carcass. And it was good.

I plucked some cilantro off its stems. I plucked A LOT of cilantro, in fact. Looking at it I thought, we always get this bushel of cilantro, use some and the rest ends up wilting and getting tossed. Might as well pluck a whole bunch. This was the most time consuming part of the process. The rinsed and plucked cilantro was placed in a cereal bowl where it was finely chopped up with scissors, much faster than a knife and cutting board.

These mangoes were juicy! I used the technique from the video above where you peel them before you cut them, cut the flesh off in thin slices and then slice into matchsticks for fine dicing. It didn't go according to plan. It was fine up until the matchstick part, when they started slipping and sliding all over the place. I think it was because they were on the softer side. I resorted to my usual machete-in-the-jungle style of cutting. The counter and I were covered from one end to the other with sticky yellow mango juice and finely chopped cilantro. It looked like a mango murder scene. As a side note, am I alone in thinking that slices of mango feel a lot like raw chicken in the hand?

All the while I had been sampling the mango and wondering why mango salsa I have had never tastes quite this good. It turns out you can't improve on nature. The small amount of red onion and nearly lethal dose of cilantro (I love cilantro) I added overpowered most of the sweetness I had tasted from the bare fruit. Now I know, the mango by itself is almost the best thing.

I added the juice of two limes (I love limes) as well to my out-of-season summer-in-winter concoction. I tried it on a spoon first. Then on a soft tortilla. I put some crumbled up Sun Chips on top for some crunchy texture (the tacos in my summer-memory had crunchy onion straws).  And I also tried it right on top of Sun Chips. Pretty good stuff. Next time, less onion, less cilantro. And we'll do it when it is actually mango season.