Having grown up in Northern Ontario, unusual tropical fruits are rather new to me. Actually, the first time I saw a tree in full bloom, never mind in full fruit, was when I moved to Hamilton for University! The climate is just not warm enough to sustain flowering trees back home.
That isn't to say we were completely deprived! I grew up with apples, pears & some "standard" tropical fruit that's available everywhere: bananas, oranges & the occasional kiwi. Stone fruit, berries (especially local strawberries & wild blueberries) & watermelon would be a treat in the summer months. Canned fruit salad or pineapple was the dessert of choice during the winter.
But here in Hamilton? All of the major grocery stores & most of the smaller ones & farmer's markets all supply a variety of tropical fruit. Some of them are abundant & not-so-unusual, like mango & avocado. Others are more uncommon, like lychee & cherimoya.
I loooooooove trying new food, especially fruits & vegetables. All the bright colours look so tantalizing together! I always end up lingering in the produce section, wanting to take one of everything home with me. Occasionally I do grab something I've never tried before, but I'm often at a loss as to what to do with it. Slowly though, I've been accumulating some recipes or just different ways of eating these new-to-me foods... & figured if I don't know how to eat some of these, maybe others don't either? So... I've decided to blog about it since that's the easiest way for me to organize my thoughts & pictures on the topic.
And with that lengthy introduction.....
Welcome to the very first of my tropical fruit adventures!
I'm going to start with an easy one - mango. Not exactly that unusual, it's still a fruit I've only recently started buying. By the case actually. Boxes of 9 were on sale a few months ago & I couldn't resist. Here's how I ate them:
Mangoes are delicious - amazingly sweet & juicy with a texture similar to other stone fruit. Cutting into them isn't the easiest due to their long, wide, flat pit, but since reading this tutorial by Cookin' Canuck, I've had no problems.
I've actually come across 2 different kinds of mango: the common mango, which are the large ones you'll typically see, with green to red skin & Ataulfo or Manila mangoes, which are smaller & bright yellow. The Ataulfo mangoes are sweeter & probably my favourite, though a bit pricier.
The best way to eat a mango is raw. They're perfect just like that:
(2 mangoes, one more golden than the other)
Or paired up with other fruit in a salad. This is obviously my favourite method of ingestion:
(mango, raspberries, blueberries)
(mango, blueberries, red plum)
(mango, Granny Smith apple)
(mango, kiwi, blackberries)
If you happen to cut into your mango too soon, don't worry. The flesh will be much firmer & sour - not so great for whatever sweet concoction you were hoping for... but perfect for a Thai mango salad!
Spicy Thai Mango Salad
1 green mango
zest & juice from 1 lime
1 red pepper
1/2 white onion
1/4 cup peanuts, roughly chopped
4 tbsp peanut oil
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes, or more if you like it spicy
salt & pepper
1. Peel & julienne the mango. Mix with lime zest & juice & allow to marinate for 15min to a few hours.
2. Julienne peppers & onion. Mix with mango.
3. Whisk together dressing ingredients. You probably have more dressing than you need, so start by pouring 1/2 over mango & veggies & mix. Add more dressing or seasonings to taste.
4. Stir in peanut just before serving.
Another great way to use mango is in a stir-fry. Just add it in after all your other veggies are cooked - it'll only need a minute or two to warm up. A nice sweet & sour or red Thai chili sauce is a perfect accompaniment to the sweet mango.
How do you like to eat your mango?
Next up in my unusual fruit adventures: persimmon!