Some time in the mid-80s or maybe early 90s, there was a sexy Calypso-style song on the radio, that started "Let me tell you 'bout my man-go.." I don't remember any more, but it certainly tied mangos and warm sultry weather together in my mind, long before I ever got to taste the luscious fruit.
Along with tomatoes, mangos represent summer to me. Specifically, the long, hot, Australian summer. Growing up in Tasmania, which has a more English climate than mainland Australia (or some would say more Irish and others, more Scottish), summers were fairly short, and Christmas could often be cold and drizzly, or occasionally snowing. Fresh cherries were the seasonal fruit to look forward to at Christmas and the start of summer. I didn’t taste mangos until I was in my 40s. And when I did, I fell in love!
Now I live in Sydney, I can indulge myself with mangos each summer – truly a seasonal delight!
Now, mangos may not be on the list of the The Top ten Good Mood Foods, or even in the list of worlds’ 100 healthiest foods (a list compiled in the US, where mangos are apparently considered exotic), but for my money they are both a very healthy fruit, and better still, an amazing mood lifter.
Who could not feel joyous eating a fresh mango, with its luscious aroma and sweet juicy flesh, the juice dripping down your face and hands – truly sensual experience! When I first read about mangos as a child, the advice on eating these fragrant and mythical fruit – surely the Golden Apples of the Hesperides – was to “sit in a cool bath, so the juice can drip over you and be washed off.”
What Mangos Add to a Healthy Diet
Australian nutritionist Catherine Saxelby votes in favour of the mango as part of a healthy diet (assuming you live somewhere that mangos are cheap and easily available in season).
With their bright golden-yellow colour, mangos are high in beta-carotene and other carotenoids, so they’re a good source of vitamin A. Apart from their flavour, that’s probably their main claim to nutrition fame.
They also offer good levels of vitamin C and potassium, and smaller amounts of other vitamins and minerals, plus a tiny amount of protein.
Golden-yellow is a good colour to add to the rainbow on your plate.
Eating and Cooking with Mangos
The best way to eat a mango is au naturel – whether or not you choose to sit in a bath. By au naturel, I mean straight from the skin in chunks, or in a fruit salad.
Mango puree makes fabulous icecream, sorbets and mousses, so if you can get a large quantity of mangos cheap during the peak season (December and January), it’s worth the mess of cutting up and freezing them for later use.
Mango chunks and mango puree work well to make sauces and accompaniments for chicken, pork and fish dishes.
Mangos can also be bought frozen or canned, and o course, there is always wonderfully hot and flavourful Indian mango chutney! You could make your own if you can get enough mangos that are not fully ripe.
So, to the recipes. First up is one I’ve used with variations for several years – a simple mango sauce for stir-fried pork or chicken. I haven’t tried it with tofu, as a vegetarian alternative, but I’m willing to bet it would do something magical to that meat alternative.
Mango Stirfry Sauce
- ¼ cup lime or lemon juice
- ¼ cup sweet chilli sauce
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons hoi sin sauce
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 500g chicken or pork stirfry strips
- 1 onion, cut into wedges or rings
- 200g broccoli or broccolini, cut into small florets
- 400g bok choy leaves or baby spinach, or small silverbeet leaves torn roughly,
- any other small vegs like baby corn, capsicum strips, snowpeas, whatever you have that will cook quickly & not overcook
- pulp or chunks of 2 medium mangoes,
- fresh mint leaves and/or fresh coriander leaves for garnish
Mix together the mango chunks/pulp with the citrus juice and sauces in a glass bowl.
Heat the oil in a wok, stirfry the onion and meat, until meat is just cooked. Take meat out and put aside.
Throw in all the vegetables, starting with the biggest or most solid, leaving the leaves till last. Stirfy quickly until vegs are just done but still crispy.
Add the meat and sauce. Bring back to the boil, simmer for a couple of minutes. Serve or steamed rice or rice noodles, and top with torn mint and coriander. A dollop of yoghurt on the side is good as well.
I’ve found a mango icecream recipe I’d love to make, if only I had an icecream machine. I’m not a great icecream fan, but homemade icecream is another seasonal treat that I enjoy occasionally.
This one uses yoghurt and no eggs, is so quite different in flavour and texture from a rich custardy icecream. I could make it with the wonderful yoghurt I get from the farmers’ market, if I could work out how to churn it.