Tasty Tuesday – Green Mangoes
This week’s feature – fresh, tropical mango. But not just any mango, nor any kind you’ve probably ever had. Nope. These ones are green!
As many of you may already be aware, tropical fruit in about every form always tastes better when you eat it fresh. Well, isn’t what I buy in the store fresh… after all, it is in the produce section of my grocery store? Yes, the pineapple, bananas, mangoes, and papayas you buy at home in the States is technically fresh, but – yes, there is always a but – it was most likely picked before its prime, compensating for the time it will spend ripening in transit to you. Sorry to burst that bubble, but no, your tropical fruit is not as fresh, juicy, and delectable as it truly should be. (Unless you live in Hawaii or Florida or something, but I don’t think any of you do!)
I have never eaten so much pineapple in my life as I do when I am in Thailand. Bananas? Oh, there’s like 10 different kinds to choose from on a daily basis. Dragon fruit, pomelo, lychee, and pomegranate, please. Not to mention all the other fruits around here. So juicy, so flavorful, so refreshing. Bottom line – tropical fruit tastes a million times better when you’re in the tropics. Kinda makes sense, huh?
Now, back to the mangoes.
This is the type of mango you are probably used to seeing at your local supermarket back in the States. It has red, orange, yellow (or a mixture of the three) flesh on the outside, and a brightly hued interior. They have a large lima bean-shaped seed in the center and smell rather sweet when being cut. Do you like this type of mango? I sure do.
Not only do we have this type of mango in Thailand (which is quite lovely paired with rice and coconut milk in a chilled bowl… mmmm), but we also have a green variety as well. If you take a quick look at the slices on my plate at the beginning of this post, you may already guess that the green mango is a bit stiffer than your regular yellow variety. This would be because the green variety has less water content than yellow mango, and is not as sweet. Green mangoes have more of a snap, similar to the texture of jicama or a thin sliced raw potato. Depending on when the mangoes are picked, they may be either slightly sour and bendy (left side of the plate), or rather bland and crisp (right side).
Green mangoes are also not eaten alone. The most common dip for any fruit, from pineapple to strawberries to guava, is a mixture of salt, sugar, and finely mashed chili peppers. Have you ever put salt on your watermelon? It just seems to make the flavor pop a little bit more. This is because, as I have been told, the salt helps to reduce the acidity of the fruit you are eating, allowing its sweetness and other flavors to shine through. The sugar gives it some balance, and the chili is a fun little kick! (Although, depending on the vendor, the dip can be a bit too salty and overpower any identity the fruit had to start with – so, be careful, as not all dips are created equal.)
Another way to eat your green mango is with a dip I do not yet know the name of. I do know, however, that I will not ever willingly consume it again. It has to be an acquired taste, because I don’t know how else anyone could ever eat it. Upon first glance, this saucy dip appears to be some sort of sweet, cooked down version of brown sugar. Sounds delicious, right? I thought so, too… until I got a little bit closer. Those small rounded bits you see in the bowl are actually the same tiny dried shrimps you find in other common Thai dishes. Roughly the size of your thumbnail, they are usually not too threatening. In this dip though, they are about enough to send me running. Ha! I was correct in my initial observation about the sauce being brown or palm sugar based, but when cooked with fish sauce and these tiny dried wonders, it becomes a thick, salty, fishy paste. Hey, some people may like it, and that’s great for them. It’s just not my cup of tea.
So, there you have it. Another Tasty Tuesday, and another thing learned about what we eat here in Thailand.
What kinds of tropical fruit have you tried, and what is your favorite?