Q: Peter Piper picked a peck of ‘mangoed’ peppers?
The influence of Asian ingredients and cooking methods has brought an exciting complexity to Australian Cuisine. To prevent these unique flavours getting lost in translation, it is important to learn how to recognise and prepare the varieties of Asian inspired produce increasingly available at the markets.
The green mango is a delicacy in Asia and serves as an example of how an exotic fruit can have varieties that look very similar but have strikingly different uses and flavours. Green eating mangoes can be grated fresh in salads, salted and dried, sliced in vinegar or fish sauces or eaten as a fruit.
Green Mangoes come in two categories: immature and mature. ‘Immature’ green mangoes are picked early and never ripen or become sweet. The skin, flesh and soft stone are all edible and are often used in pickles or chutneys. In contrast, the ‘mature’ green mango is allowed to fully ripen on the tree. The skin thickens and becomes inedible, the flesh becomes firm and the stone develops a hard shell. When mature the flavour and texture is similar to a crisp, tart green apple.
Here is a snapshot of some of the Green Mango varieties available in Australia:
Keow Savoey (Thailand)
Traits: oblong, dark green fruit. Green when ripe with semi-translucent pulp
Use: Considered the best green eating variety in Thailand. Used in salads, curries and chutneys because of its sweet-sour taste and firm texture.
Nam Doc Mai (Thailand)
Traits: almond shaped fruit with white green skin, develops a pink blush when exposed to sun. Green fruit is about ¾ of the size of the ripe fruit
Use: Generally not eaten green in Thailand, Nam Doc Mai in Australia is sold as a mature green or ripe fruit. At its best when the skin takes on a whitish green hue, it has a mild sweet taste, though it can be quite sour when green
Traits: green, oblong shape fruit with no blush
Use: milder flavour than Keow Savoey and is generally eaten sliced in vinegar or fish sauces
Xoai Tuong- Elephant Mango (Vietnam)
Traits: Oblong shaped. When eaten green, the pulp is crisp with low fibre and is covered with a medium-thick green skin without any blush
Use: The fruit has a strong, sour flavour and is the most popular green eating variety in Vietnam
Traits: Oblong with a small pointed knob, the ripe fruit and flesh are light yellow
Use: Dual-purpose variety, being eaten green or ripe as a fruit. Rad has a slight sour flavour when eaten green and is very sweet as a ripe fruit
A: When mangoes were first brought from Asia to the American colonies in the 17th Century the lack of refrigeration meant they had to be pickled to survive the journey. Over time, other pickled fruits (especially capsicum) became known as ‘mangoes’. This was so widespread, that by the 18th century the word mango started to be used as a verb meaning ‘to pickle’.