017: Mango

I never have a lot of luck with mangoes. Sometimes I’ll end up with a good one, but most of the time they’re hard, fibrous, sour, or just flavorless. And I still don’t really know how to pick them! I know what to look for, but it just doesn’t seem to work for me. And then, a few weeks ago, my friend Ari started telling me about the mangoes she’d been eating, how they were the greatest ever, telling me about mango wishes and how her mom just picked the best mangoes. She also told me her mom had asked her to get me to cook dinner for them. So, with a source of great mangoes secured, week 17 will be the first away meal.

Menu (serves 4)
Mango Coconut Curry Soup
Green Mango Larb with Mango and Kiwi Fresh Rolls
Shrimp and Mango Puff Taco
Mango and Bananas Foster

Mango Coconut Curry Soup
-2 large mangoes (ripe optional)
-1 can coconut milk
-1 onion
-2 cloves garlic
-1 carrot
-1 jalapeno
-1t curry powder
-salt and pepper to taste
-cilantro
-lime

Dice the onion, mince the garlic. Skin and dice the mangoes and carrot. Cut the seeds out of the jalapeno and mince it.
Heat some oil in a big pot. Throw in the onion, garlic, and carrot. When the onion goes a little soft, add the jalapeno. While it cooks, open up the coconut milk, then pour it in with the curry. Let everything get softer. Add the mango. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, then puree. When it’s at the right consistency, adjust the flavor with lime, salt, pepper, and more curry powder, and mix it in again. Garnish with cilantro.

Green Mango Larb with Mango and Kiwi Fresh Rolls
-1 green mango
-1/2lb ground pork
-3T fish sauce
-1 carrot
-cilantro
-1 large shallot
-1T uncooked rice
-1 jalapeno
-2 limes
-2 green onions
-1/4T dried red chili

-1 brick rice vermicelli
-8 rice-paper wrappers
-1 mango
-4 kiwis
-2 limes
-3T soy sauce
–mint

For the larb: first, toast the rice. Put a skillet on medium heat, and pour the rice in. Shake it around so that it doesn’t burn. Cook until browned. Pour the rice into a mortar and pestle, or some other thing that can pulverize it. Grind it into a rough powder. In the same skillet, heat a little oil, and cook the pork. Smash it thin with a wooden or other nonpliable spatula, cook it through, then use the spatula to chop the meat into very small chunks.

Remove the meat to a bowl to cool off. Seed and mince the jalapeno, chop the shallot, peel and julienne the carrot. Cut the skin off the green mango. Slice off big chunks from the sides. Cut it into long, thin sticks. Chop up a couple stems of cilantro. Mix all ingredients in the first block together in a container. Let it sit for a couple hours to get itself together.

For the rolls, cut the mango into thin, but thicker than the green mango, sticks. Skin the kiwis, slice them in half, then slice the halves into 5 or 6 pieces. Boil some water and cook the rice noodles. Pull a bunch of leaves off the mint stems.
Pour some warm water into a wide, shallow dish. Put a rice wrap in the water, and move it around a little, and let it sit until it’s soft and skin-like. You’ll know when that is. It’ll start out as a hard, brittle disk, then get a little more pliable, then get REALLY soft. Pull the wrap out, and lay it on a plate as flat as you can. Let it dry a little bit, so that it’s kind of tacky. Otherwise, it’ll be really slippery and hard to roll.
Fill the roll with a couple mango spears, some kiwi, mint leaves, and noodles. Roll it by folding the sides up, then grabbing the bottom, pulling it up and over the filling, and then folding the sides over that, and rolling it shut.
Squeeze the limes into a bowl and mix with the soy sauce for a dipping sauce. Serve with a couple scoops of larb, and garnish with mint.

Mango and Shrimp Puff Taco

-1 mango
-2 avocados
-1/2lb shrimp
-1 lime’s worth of juice
-1 package Trader Joe’s Middle Eastern Flatbread
-2T banana sauce
-cilantro


Shell the shrimp. Skin the mango and cut it down into bite-sized pieces. Put the two in a bowl together, and mix with the lime juice and banana sauce. When you’re about ready to serve the tacos, heat a large skillet with some oil, and pour it all in.

Cook it until the shrimp is done, then turn it off. You don’t want the shrimp getting tough. In a different skillet, heat a teaspoon of oil. When it’s hot, put a flatbread into the pan. It’ll start getting brown, puffing up, maybe like way too much. Just punch it down a little with the spatula; it doesn’t need to be puffy when it’s served. Flip and cook both sides.

Halve the avocados, cut them up, and spread them out on the bread. Spoon the shrimp and mango out, top with a wad of cilantro.

Mango and Bananas Foster
1 mango
-2 bananas
-1/4c butter
-4T brown sugar
-1/2t cinnamon
-3T dark rum
-vanilla ice cream

Skin the mango, and cut it into a small wedge dice. Cut the bananas into disks. In a skillet, melt the butter, and stir in the sugar and cinnamon. Add the fruit. When it’s cooked a bit, add the rum. Touch a lit match or a long lighter to the surface. It’s kind of scary but it’s not gonna explode! Just go for it. When the flames go out, it’s ready. Spoon the dessert over a scoop or two of ice cream.

Report

Excellent. Everything came out well. I had quibbles with every dish, and saw things to improve, but all of them were delicious.

Soup: A touch thick for my liking. I also wanted it smoother. The soup overall wasn’t what I had imagined when I was planning the menu; I switched recipes because of a few missing ingredients I wasn’t sure on. But, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t great, or even better than what I’d planned.
The soup was sweet, a little tangy, spicy, and creamy. It was definitely, definitely mango. Kind of like the cantaloupe soup, but it was completely there, one of the main flavors.
I also winged the recipe, so that’s a plus, too.
Larb and Fresh Roll: The larb was pretty awesome. I haven’t had much larb, but Ari’s dad said it was perfect! It was nice and fresh-tasting, crunchy, sour, just spicy enough. The green mango added a good sourness, and a subtle mango flavor. I wanted a bit more color in it, but I don’t know what I would add without messing up the flavor.
I thought the fresh roll was interesting, but I didn’t really see the point of it in the state it was in. It just tasted like the fruit plus rice stuff. I felt like I might as well have just eaten the fruit by itself. If I made it again, I’d add something, maybe pickled carrots/radish, for more contrast of flavors. Ari rolled these, since I had a lot of trouble with it. It took her a while, too, but she got a lot better as she went.  The dipping sauce was stupid easy but it was good.
Shrimp and Mango Puff Taco: Very tasty. I’d never used banana ketchup before, but I liked it a lot, and it naturally went really well with the shrimp and mango. The Trader Joe’s Middle Eastern Flatbread isn’t a corporate sponsorship thing, it’s just that I don’t know of another pita-like product that fries up like this does. If I looked, I could probably find one, but these have worked well for me in my gyro and unhealthy wrap pursuits.

As you can see, it’s a little chewy, a little crispy. The filling was sweet, mostly. It was good, but it was missing some things. First, it needed crunchy greens. Lettuce ribs, cabbage, something like that. Second, I think it should have been spicier. It tasted good, but a little simple. The greens thing is the more important point, though. The avocado didn’t add much, if anything. The filling’s flavor was too strong for the avocado to be very noticeable. I also overcooked the shrimp a bit. It may have been right when I finished cooking, but I didn’t cook it at the right time and so reheated it when I served. It was still totally fine when we ate, too, but when I ate the leftovers, the shrimp were definitely overdone.
Mango and Bananas Foster: Alright, you can’t really go wrong with butter and rum and brown sugar. This definitely didn’t go wrong. But, I don’t know how much the mangoes added. They made it a little tangier, but that’s about it. I overcooked this a little, too. The mango sort of dissolved. If it had stayed more together, it may have been more distinct. I think it would have worked without bananas. I probably should have tried that. Beyond that, I think it could have used some crunch. A graham cracker, or some granola or something, maybe a homemade granola bar with dried mango. It was totally great, but I didn’t think it was a good addition to the menu.
So, this menu was really good. Like I said, all the food was delicious. The concepts were decent, it all looked pretty nice. In regards to the use of the ingredient, I think I did alright. Most of the uses were unorthodox, and they totally worked. I regret not having the mango on its own somewhere. The fresh roll came close, but it got a little lost. The mango was incredibly good, so I wish I’d given people the chance to just taste that. It could have been a garnish, maybe?
It was really fun cooking in a different kitchen and having a sous chef. I’ll probably have another menu over there, too. I like this moving-around business. Cooking for new people is always nice, and cooking with people is even nicer, even though I tend to hog tasks.


Assistant Ari enjoying dessert

Next Week: Beets

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3 Comments

  1. Ari

     /  September 24, 2012

    lol “mango wishes”

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

     /  September 25, 2012

    what is larb??

    Reply
    • Larb is a sort of salad made from minced meat, sometimes raw, with mint, chilies, mint, and toasted rice; basically what i made!

      Reply

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