Mango: Eat, drink and love

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Nothing beats the taste of a fresh mango drink. Picture: LANCE SEETO

If there is one fruit that screams tropical island, it would have to be mango.

There is just something so exotic, sensual and erotic about eating a juicy ripe mango on the beach of a tropical island. It’s the one fruit that I don’t care if my hands, mouth and face get covered in its sweet, sticky nectar. And in case you haven’t left the house yet, mango season is in full swing across the country.

Fiji exports a range of mango varieties including introduced hybrids and traditional Fiji varieties such as peach, juicy and parrot.

Sweet mangoes usually start in October and exotic varieties comes on stream in November and December. Roadside and market vendors are filled with this ripened fruit that has long been associated with love, worship and benevolence.

At my Nadi restaurant, patrons are enjoying mango in drinks, stir fry, curries, in BBQ and of course as dessert. One group turned up to KANU with a box full of mango from their village and asked if they could enjoy them with their meals. Of course, I said yes. Seasonal fruits like mango are packed full of essential vitamins and learning to live with COVID-19 means that we must all eat as much fresh fruits and vegetables as we can to maintain a strong immune system.

 

Health and nutritional benefits

It goes without saying that mango is another one of nature’s great medicinal gifts; and when they come into season we are reminded to immediately add them to our diet.

One cup of mango contains 100 calories, zero fat and zero cholesterol. One cup of mango will fulfil 12 per cent of your daily fibre requirements.

The same serving will also provide 100 per cent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C, 35 per cent of vitamin A, 20 per cent of folate, 10per cent of vitamin B6, and 8 per cent of both vitamin K and potassium.

They also provide copper, calcium, and iron, and are rich in the antioxidants beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. With their rich vitamin A content and antioxidants, they may also help to regenerate and restore skin cells, while the vitamin C helps to boost collagen production.

Basically, mango is one big handful of delicious medicine that repairs both inside and outside the body.

To soften skin, combine the fruit of one mango, one tablespoon of honey, and a half cup of fresh coconut milk in a blender. Rub vigorously on your skin in the bath or shower, and rinse with warm and then cool water. It will leave your skin feeling soft and supple.

Drink a mango

I love mango in many savoury dishes like stir fried pepper beef, duck curry and teriyaki chicken but to truly enjoy its natural flavour, drink it.

Slushies, milkshakes, smoothies or juice; all you need is a food processor or blender to puree the mango’s deep orange flesh with your desired milk and ice cream. Whether alcoholic or not, there are plenty of recipes to enjoy the king of fruits as a nectar. It pairs well with both dark and white rum, and when blended with fresh coconut milk becomes an exotic colada.

For lovers of cocktails, the Mango Mimosa with fresh puree and sparkling wine is the ideal brunch beverage, with mango margaritas, daiquiris, sangria and martinis the perfect way to enjoy this delicious seasonal fruit.

During mango season it’s ironic that many market vendors sell artificial orange juice when you can easily mix a more healthy concoction of fresh mango puree with coconut water and mint, iced teas or your favourite fizzy drink with ice.

Perfect dessert partner

There are few substitutions for fresh, sweet mango in cheesecakes, mousse or a freshly creamed sponge cake.

It’s soft texture and natural sweetness is the perfect partner with cream and milks, transforming the fruit into a silky, tropical dessert.

Think mango cheesecake, mango lassie, sorbet and creamy icy pops. If you are lucky enough to be blessed with a mango tree that is full of fruit, don’t let the fruit go rotten on the ground.

Collect as many mangoes as you can, wait for them to ripen then cut into chunks and transfer to the deep freezer. This way, you can enjoy your favourite mango recipes all year round.

How to select and store

Mangoes come in a variety of colours, including yellow, orange, green, and red, but a red hue doesn’t necessarily mean it’s ripe. To judge ripeness, squeeze gently.

A ripe one will have a slight give with fingertip pressure, and will smell sweet at the stem end. An unripe mango has a sour taste and astringent effect on your tongue and lips, so choose carefully if you’re planning to eat it the same day.

Mangoes that are still a bit green will ripen more quickly if placed in a brown paper bag out of direct sunlight. Otherwise, store at room temperature for a few days.

You can also slow down the ripening process by putting them in the fridge, but whole mangoes should not be frozen.

You can, however, cut up the ripe ones and combine them with sugar and tequila or vodka to make a refreshing, fruity homemade sorbet.

After freezing, restore fresh mangoes to room temperature when you’re ready to eat, to get the full natural flavour.

Don’t let them rot on the ground! Pick them up and save them for another day. 

Lance Seeto is the chef/owner of KANU Restaurant in Martintar, Nadi’s popular Asian fusion restaurant.

 

Recipes
By LANCE SEETO

Mango double rum smoothy
If you have Fiji rum and Fiji coconut rum lyingaround the house, this blended cocktailis the perfect boozy beverage to enjoy withfresh mangoes that have been pulped and frozen.
2 cups ripe mango pulp, frozen
175ml Fiji rum aged
120ml coconut rum
1/3 cup sweetened coconut milk
4 cups ice
Slices of fresh mango, garnish
1. Blend mango, aged rum, coconut rum,
coconut milk, and 4 cups ice in a blender
until smooth.
2. Divide among glasses and garnish with
tropical fl owers and mango

 

Mango mojito mocktail
Pronounced “mo-hito”, this non-alcoholic version is like an icy slushy and has been adapted to include chilled coconut bu water

2 cups ripe mango, diced

1 cup fresh mint leaves, torn not chopped
2 cups ice cubes, crushed
1 litre coconut bu water, chilled or semi frozen
1 lime, sliced into wedges
1. Add mango, torn mint leaves and
crushed ice cubes to a blender and process
until smooth;
2. Slowly add the chilled coconut water, a
little at a time, and continue blending
into a slushy;
3. Divide the mixture amongst glasses
and top with a squeeze of fresh lime.

Mango colada
Forget pina colada with pineapple, this is the mango version with a hint of sweetness from pure local honey. White rum is preferred in a good colada as it highlights the coconut and fruit.
2 cup ripe mango, cubes
1 cup ice cubes, crushed
½ cup fresh coconut milk
½ cup coconut bu water
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
(from about 1/2 lime)
½ cup Fiji white rum
1 tablespoon pure honey
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and
blend until smooth and thick. Serve in tall
glasses.

 

Malbec mango sangria
Red wine varieties are expanding in Fiji and we can now buy European Malbec’s, which are lighter, fruitier and slightly tangier than a bottle of Merlot or Cabernet, and perfect in this mango infused wine recipe.
1 750 ml bottle Malbec red wine
120ml Fiji Dark Rum
2 cups ripe mango chunks
2/3 cup Fiji raw sugar
Juice of 2 Oranges
Juice of 1 Lemon
Ice cubes
Slices of mango, orange, lemon, garnish
1. Place sugar in the bottom of a large jug
or glass pitcher;
2. Top with Malbec red wine, and stir until
sugar is completely dissolved
3. Add dark rum, mango chunks, juice of 2
oranges and 1 lemon
4. Stir, cover and refrigerate at least 4
hours or overnight
5. When ready to serve, add ice cubes and
fresh slices of fruit

 

Spicy mango icy pops
Try this adult version of the popular icy treat with touches of chilli and sugar to accentuate the fresh mango pulp. You can use a special icy pop mould or a muffin tray will also work. Korean red chilli powder is not as hot regular chilli powder and can be found in Chinese shops.
3 ripe mangoes, for puree
3/4 cup Fiji raw sugar
3/4 cup coconut bu water
2 teaspoons mild Korean red chilli powder
3 small limes, juiced
2 ripe mangoes, diced very small
muffi n tray with plastic cups (or an icy pop
mould)
1. Peel and cut 3 mangoes. Put them in a
blender to puree. Reserve.
2. Combine sugar, coconut water and 1
teaspoon red chilli powder in a saucepan.
Place over medium heat until
sugar is completely dissolved. Remove
from heat and let cool, strain.
3. Add the mango puree and the lime juice
to the sugar water. Mix well.
4. In a medium bowl mix the diced mangoes
with the remaining 1 teaspoon red
chilli powder, it must be completely incorporated.
5. Divide the diced mango mixture evenly
among the plastic cups. Pour the mango
puree evenly over the diced mangoes.
Place the muffin tin in the freezer
and freeze for 2 hours. When the mango
mixture is slightly frozen, insert an icy
pop stick into the center of each cup;
it has to stand up straight. If it falls, let
them freeze for a little longer.
6. When ready to serve, cut the plastic
cups and gently pull each ice pop.

Mango cheesecake
Crust
2 cups any Fiji made sweet biscuit, crushedinto crumbs
1/2 cup Fiji raw sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Filling
3 large very ripe mangoes, chunks
3 200gm cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups Fiji raw sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
Sliced peeled pitted mangoes
For crust:
1. Preheat oven to 175° Celsius. Lightly
butter 9-inch-diameter cake tin with
3-inch-high sides.
2. Stir biscuit crumbs and sugar in medium
bowl, add melted butter and stir
until evenly moistened. Press crumb
mixture fi rmly onto bottom (not sides)
of prepared pan. Bake until crust is set,
about 12 minutes. Cool completely.
Maintain oven temperature.
For fi lling:
3. Puree mangoes in processor until
smooth. Set aside 2 cups mango puree
(reserve any remaining puree for another
use).
4. Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in
large bowl until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a
time, beating well after each addition.
5. Add 2 cups mango puree and beat until
well blended. Pour fi lling over crust in
pan.
6. Bake cake until set and puffed and
golden around edges (centre may move
very slightly when pan is gently shaken),
about 1 hour 25 minutes.
7. Cool cake 1 hour. Refrigerate uncovered
overnight. Run small knife between
cake and sides of pan to loosen. Remove
pan sides. Transfer cake to platter.
Cut into wedges and serve with
sliced mangoes.
Mango chicken with coconut brown rice
4 boneless chicken breasts, skin off
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to
taste
1 tablespoon virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red onion, diced
1 cup fresh mango, diced
1/2 cup fresh mango juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon red chilli, chopped fi ne
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
leaves
For the coconut brown rice
1 cup brown rice
1/4 cup coconut milk
1. First make ½ cup fresh mango juice
by squeezing a ripe mango through a
strainer
2. Cook the brown rice according to the
packet instructions, then stir in coconut
milk towards the end; set aside.
3. Season chicken with salt and pepper, to
taste.
4. Preheat grill to medium high heat. Add
chicken to grill and cook, fl ipping once
until cooked through, about 5-6 minutes
on each side; set aside.
5. Heat olive oil in a medium frypan or a
wok over medium heat. Add garlic and
onion, and cook, stirring often, until onions
have become translucent, about
3-4 minutes.
6. Stir in mango, mango nectar, ginger,
chilli, soy and honey until slightly thickened,
about 3-5 minutes. Stir in lime
juice.
7. Divide rice into bowls. Top with chicken
and mango mixture.
8. Serve immediately, garnished with coriander,
if desired.

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