There is nothing more exotic and fulfilling than a juicy ripe mango to eat during the warmer months. I love this fruit.
What I truly love about the versatile mango is that it brings back that tropical island visit all over again. For me, that is Costa Rica and the Bahamas. If your yacht is in the Caribbean for the winter, then you will have plenty of them ripe for eating and you probably have several on hand now. Lucky you.
What I don’t like about the mango is that they are expensive, or can be. It’s because mangos are hand picked once a year and most of them found in the USA are imported from Mexico, Peru, Brazil and Haiti. So when you are in a tropical area, look for them, and use them as much as you can, while you can.
When first exposed to the fruit, we all go for mango salsa. While delicious, it is a bit boring. How about a chimichurri sauce instead? Chop up some parsley and cilantro, add diced mango, some red wine vinegar, fresh minced garlic, and salt and pepper. Blend it all in a blender or food processor. This would taste incredible with a fresh grilled steak, pork chop or chicken.
Another alternative to salsa is a mango chutney, made with mangos, pineapple, cumin, jalapeno pepper, raisins, sugar, coconut and cinnamon simmered. This pairs so much better than what you can buy in the stores and accompanies a delicious mango barbecue sauce chicken.
Underripe green mangoes can also be used to make a green mangoes chutney, which typically uses ginger, onion, garlic, raisins, hot chilies, cumin, salt and vinegar. This version works great with seafood. Underripe mangoes are also used in Indian curries and other Indian dishes.
Mangoes give off ethylene, so when they sit next to other produce, they will cause it all to ripen faster or, worse, spoil. So take care where you place your mangoes.
It takes about five days for a hard mango to ripen, but it will not ripen in the refrigerator, so leave it on the counter. Once ripe, it should give a little, like the flesh on your shoulder. Refrigerate it at this point and it will keep a few days more.
If you are lucky enough to have too many to use fresh, you can freeze mango flesh. Just remember that once frozen, they will lose their texture and won’t hold up in a salad. They ar best cooked with after being frozen.
Turn frozen mangos into a puree and mix with rum and a little Triple Sec to make mango daiquiris for the guests onboard, or into strawberry-mango margaritas.
Believe it or not, frozen and pureed mango makes a great soup thickener. Or, better yet, turn them into the feature soup. A cool and creamy coconut and mango soup in summer works great as a first course.
A great recipe is to turn frozen mangos into a mango tart. Make some lime-flavored pastry cream and thinly slice frozen mangos to top it. (Slicing them when frozen is easier before they defrost.)
Not only are mangoes high in fiber, which means they can fill you up faster, but the tasty ones contain tons of flavor. But there are 1,000 varieties of mango. The common ones for cooking include the Tommy Atkins, Haden, Keitt and Kent.
A few slices of these mangos can add a big flavor profile boost to salads, or create your own dessert such as a mango pie or mango flan, or mango upside-down cake. The list continues to include sorbet or ice cream. I use mango sorbet to cleanse the palate between multiple courses during dinner.
To make this simple sorbet, puree 2 cups of diced mango, 3 cups of ice, and 3/4 cup of sugar. Place in the freezer immediately and pull out 10 minutes before serving to soften.
Another super-easy yet creative way to serve mangoes is in mango brulee. Slice off each side of a very ripe mango. Don’t peel it; just slice it off flat against the seed. Then take a knife and make criss-cross patterns through the flesh, being careful not to slice through the skin.
Sprinkle brown sugar over it and 1 teaspoon of orange juice or rum, then broil for 5 to 7 minutes until the tops are brown like a creme brulee. What could be easier or tastier for dessert in the islands?
Mary Beth Lawton Johnson is a certified executive pastry chef and Chef de Cuisine and has worked on yachts for more than 25 years. Comments on this column are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.