Lesson #8: Peeling a mango

Mangoes are my favorite fruit. I wouldn’t want to live life without them. Mangoes are deliciously versatile and excellent for you. Mangoes are pretty. They’re pretty when green. They’re pretty when ripe. Mangoes are pretty with or without peel. Doesn’t that sound like an essay submitted by an 8-yr-old? That’s how mangoes make me feel. Like a kid looking forward to a full life. I love mangoes, I simply do!

I don’t know how many varieties there are, but I do know that I can think of at least 10 different types available in Panama. Some are extraordinary, while others are considered poor quality and snubbed. Now that I live in Houston, I cherish EVERY mango I can get my mango-eating hands on.

It also occurs to me that as common as they are to me, they are still exotic to a lot of people. With that i mind, I thought I would give you a quick how-to peel a mango post. No mad scientist skills required, to tell you the truth, I’m worried you’ll find this unnecessary and patronizing. But really, I’m coming from a place of helpfulness.

First, don’t buy your mangoes soft/ripe already. Instead, opt for the ones that still have quite a bit of green in them. It’s best to let them ripen under your watchful eye. Just leave them out on your counter for a few days and allow nature to do its thing. Sniff it, squeeze, but not too hard. When it smells sweet and honey-ey, its ready. The outside will be a mottled orange-red, depending on the varietal you get.

There are 2 routes I know of. The first one is how I used to do it back in the homeland, Panama–did I mention I’ll be there in 3 weeks? I digress. This is your basic peel a fruit route.

See? You knew how to do that.

Now it’s ready to eat or chop at will.  The other method I learned after moving here. I think it looks fancy and pretty.

First, remember there’s a large pit right in the middle of the mango. One side of the mango is rounded and the other end has a slight point/end. Trim the rounded side so you have a flat surface on the mango, stabilize to avoid cooking injuries.

Lay it on the trimmed end and place the knife on either side of the pointy end and work it down. Then do the same to the other side.

Once you have 2 halves, score them across. Be careful not to cut too deeply, you don’t want your knife to cut through the peel.

Flip it and score it in the opposite direction. Again, mind the peel.

Now the fun and making pretty part comes in. Hold the halves with both hands and push from the bottom/skin side in.

Once it’s flipped, it looks like this.

You can cut the cubes with the knife or you can tear them off with your fingers. Then peel the section with the pit, there’s a lot of meat there too. It’s ready to eat.

As it turned out, these weren’t the best mangoes, so I didn’t eat them like this. Instead, I added some sugar, water, star anise and salt and simmered it down until the mango was softened and used it to jazz up other meals.

Cookingly yours,

And this is one of the meals I created with the caramelized mangoes. Tangy & Spicy Shrimp and Mango. Yum, no?