Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Learning to Mango: A Mango Rice Salad
At the store, I was just about to reach for a cantaloupe and wishing I had X-ray vision so I could really tell if it was ripe or not, when I noticed the display of mangos next to it. There wasn’t anything to identify it, just the “88 cents each” sign. I’m a little red-faced to admit that I wasn’t really sure what it was. Papaya, maybe? And the woman next to me sniffing a cantaloupe said she thought it was a persimmon! I knew that wasn't right, so I had to ask the clerk, who had to ask someone else. Yes, it was indeed a mango.
Into my basket it goes and off I go to find out what the heck I was going to do with it. My husband, who hates un-ripe cantaloupe, was suspicious but game enough to go along with my “let’s-get-out-our-comfort-zone” mood.
I knew mangos were a sweet, tropical fruit, often juicy, but that’s about it. I’ve also noticed that they’re much more readily available in stores than they used to be, even in my part of the boonies.
I learned a lot during my Googling. Not only are mangos sweet, they have oodles of nutritious benefits. They contain an enzyme with stomach soothing properties similar to the papain found in papayas, making them very comforting to the digestive system. Those same enzymes, I learned, also make the mango a good tenderizing agent, good to include in a marinade.
They’re also a great source of fiber, and they’re low in calories – about 110 in an average mango. Rich in anti-oxidants, the mango is a good source of Vitamins A and C, as well as potassium and beta carotene.
I learned all this from a website called freshmangos.com, published by the London Fruit Company. It had tons of recipes – everything from appetizers and drinks to chicken and seafood dishes. I landed on a Mango Rice Salad because the mixture of textures of the ingredients appealed to me. (The idea that I didn’t have to cook too much in 86 degree heat was also very appealing!)
Now how was I to cut the thing? I’d looked at a couple diagrams. One tip suggested just cutting in half and scooping the fruit with a spoon; but since I wanted small chunks for my salad, I skinned it first, then chopped it. It was more of a hatchet job. I nearly mangled it, but consoled myself that it wasn’t bad surgery for a first effort. I couldn’t resist sampling as I went. Yep, I’d had that before. A bright yellow in color, it tasted like something between a pineapple and a peach, but firmer. The closest thing to it, I think, might be a nectarine.
Mango Rice Salad
London Fruit Company
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups chopped mango
3/4 cup shredded carrot
4 stalks celery, diced
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. lemon zest
1/4 cup sugar
Pretty simple: Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well, cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Makes 5 generous servings.