Mango season always brings childhood memories of the pitter-patter of footsteps on my bedroom roof, when not-so-sneaky thieves would use the house to reach the heavily laden loftier branches of the mango trees in our garden. This theft was ignored, and even encouraged by my mother, since I am allergic and even the smell made me resemble a puffer fish.
The mango joins a long list of fruits brought to the Caribbean by early maritime legends, this time Captain Cook, who brought it to Barbados from Brazil in the 18th century after it had made its way to South America from Asia. Known as “the king of fruits” in its native India, mangoes usually start adorning trees and hitting supermarket shelves in May or June, and their sizes, shapes and colors vary dramatically by species. There are hundreds of different mango cultivars, with friendly names such as Edward, Dot and Carrie. Mango varieties most likely to be seen in Cayman are Nam Doc, Julie, Kent, Valencia Pride and Jakarta.
Per 100g, mango has 0.7g protein, 0.2g fat, 14.1g carbohydrate and 57 kcal. It is an excellent source of copper, folate and fiber and provides the powerful antioxidant qualities of beta-carotene, and large amounts of vitamin C, which aids in the absorption of iron and production of collagen. Medicinally, the resinous gum and bark are used as an astringent.
How to eat
Nothing compares to the taste or smell of a ripe mango. The versatile fruit is used in jams, desserts, juices and the much-loved mango chutney, which accompanies many Indian dishes. Of course, mango can be eaten raw, and its yellowish-orange flesh is very sweet and juicy when ripe. Some people dip it into a salty vinegar sauce, which contrasts perfectly with the sweetness of the fruit.
Chef Dylan Benoit of Craft Food & Beverage Group has supplied two mango-related recipes: mango bread and mango walnut relish, which may be eaten together or on their own. Chef Benoit says, “The mango relish is made in a ‘gastrique’ style, using sugar and vinegar to create a very uniquely flavored sauce for this dish.”
He recommends using mangoes that are ripe, but not over-ripe as they tend to turn to mush when cooking in the relish. A few toasted walnuts for earthiness and crunch add another layer to the dish, all of which highlight the freshness of the mango.
To serve 4
- 1 lb mango, diced
- 1 cup milk
- 4 eggs
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 3 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
For the bread:
Mix the milk and eggs together until smooth, then add mango.
Add baking soda, baking powder, flour and sugar, mixing each ingredient well before adding the next. Finally, incorporate the vegetable oil.
Pour batter into a lined baking pan and bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes.
Once cooked, allow to cool slightly, then remove from pan and cut into slices.
Mango walnut relish
- ¼ cup apple cider vinaigrette
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup mango puree
- ½ mango, diced
- ¼ cup walnuts, toasted and diced
- pinch salt
Put the vinegar, sugar and mango puree into a small pot. Cook over medium-high heat until simmering rapidly. Allow to cook for 5 minutes, then add diced mango and walnuts. Cook for another 3-5 minutes until the mango turns translucent.
Season with a small pinch of salt and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Bread and relish can either be used separately as part of other recipes, or the toasted bread can be stacked with mixed greens followed by the relish, as well as some of the leftover relish liquid.