Mango Loco

Or loca: I’m crazy for these produce department newcomers, ataulfo mangoes. For anyone who loves the floral/tropical flavor of mangoes but can’t stand the fibrous, get-stuck-between-your-teeth nature of the common mango, be sure to stock up on these golden beauties before they disappear for the season.

I first spotted the ataulfos (AKA “champagne” or “honey” mangoes) last spring, and being food-curious, felt compelled to buy a couple. I let them ripen on the counter a day or two, and then sliced into my first one. Very nice texture, but more pucker power than a bag of Sour Skittles®. Maybe they’d be OK for salsas, but I wasn’t an immediate convert. So the second ataulfo sat for almost a week, and got kind of wrinkly. In fruit that’s not usually a good attribute, but with these mangoes it was yet another case of beauty being more than skin deep. When I cut open the withered, neglected mango, I expected to find overripe, mushy fruit that would be destined for the smoothie section in our freezer (right next to all the “too many spots” bananas). But lo! The mango was perfectly ripe. Its texture was silky like a ripe avocado, with no stringy fibers. And the taste! Sweet and exotic, like being transported to Maui. (Except ataulfos come from Mexico.)

These mangoes are so perfect on their own, I hesitate to even suggest a recipe that delegates them to supporting role status. However, since Cinco de Mayo is around the corner, I’m including a very simple mango salsa recipe that I use a lot with chicken, fish and shrimp.

Mango 101

Here are the two types of mangoes you’ll find in the grocery store. The traditional mangoes are larger and can be found year-round; ataulfos have a much shorter availability window – usually March through June.

Regular Mango

Traditional (many different varieties)

ataulfo mango

Ataulfo/Champagne/Honey

Be sure to let the mangoes ripen at room temperature until they give a little when squeezed and have started to wrinkle slightly. Once they’re ripe to this point, you can keep them in the refrigerator for up to another week. (Same trick works for avocados, too.)

To cut mangoes, slice off the “cheeks” on either side of the pit, leaving 2 cheeks and a ¾” thick pit section. (Be sure to use a sharp knife and watch out for your fingers!)

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Cross-hatch slice each cheek (being careful not to cut all the way through the skin), and then either invert the cheek for a cool presentation …

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Fancy mango “fan”

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… or scoop out the diced chunks with a spoon. I usually do it this way for the kids, and then serve in the mango skin “bowls”.

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Finally, trim the skin from the pit piece and then cut off any other bits of mango. (Or do as I do and just eat this piece as the chef’s reward.)

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If you have an abundance of mangoes, make Mango Salsa:

the best mango salsa

Mango Salsa                                                                                   Print Recipe

Makes about 1 ½ cups

  • 2 ripe ataulfo mangoes, cut into ½” dice (about 1 ½ cups)
  • ¼ cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely diced
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Add all ingredients to a small bowl and stir gently to combine. Can be made several hours a head.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Mango Loco

  1. How do you tell the difference between these mangoes and regular mangoes? I’m afraid my grocery store just labels produce very generically.

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