Mango chai tea, mango omelettes, and even a mango pizza (we’re not even joking) have all gone viral this year as mangoes continue inspiring chefs and foodies worldwide to create the most adventurous tropical fusion food. With South Africa’s mango season officially starting, you can too!
It’s really not hard to see why mangoes remain so popular with professional and home cooks. For a start, they epitomise summer with their exotic colours and fragrance. They have a distinctive, sweet, floral flavour that no other fruit can match. And they’re incredibly versatile, easily switching from sweet to savoury dishes (and, given this year’s trends, everything in between as well!)
This makes mangoes popular with adults and kids alike. Mangoes look good on any summer spread, including on fancy party trays sliced, diced, and all dressed up. But they’re equally delicious in kiddies’ snacks and meals. Does summer have a taste? Oh yes, it does!
This season, we’re maximising mangoes’ sultry sweetness and pairing them with coleslaw in lettuce boats with sesame dressing and calamari in trendy tacos for the ultimate in fuss-free entertaining. We’re also taking poolside popsicles to the next level and adding muesli and yoghurt to pureed mango for a crunchy, creamy spin on this all-time kiddies’ favourite.
But mangoes aren’t just a pretty face. These fruits are high in vitamins A and C, biotin and the mineral potassium. They are also a source of vitamins B1 and B6 and free from fat, sodium and cholesterol. As if we needed any more reasons to indulge in these tropical treats!
There are more than 1000 known varieties of mango grown worldwide. In South Africa, 15 different cultivars are grown, mainly in the subtropical regions of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. We harvest our mangoes from December to the end of April, which means a plentiful supply all the way through summer.
If you’re already rubbing your hands in anticipation, look out for Tommy Atkins mangoes. They’re the season’s first fruit and are known for their medium to large size and thickish orange-red skin.
You’ll also soon see the smaller Zill mangoes in store – another early-season cultivar. You’ll recognise them with their greenish-yellow to red skin and honey-sweet flesh.
Mid-season is around February when you’ll be able to pick up Sensation, a small, oval, firm, stringless mango with a delightful green and purple colouring, and Heidi, with its quintessential mango yellow and red colouring. Heidi mangoes are medium to large in size and heart-shaped. The delicious mid to late-season Kent and Keitt will keep you supplied with mangoes until April.
To judge how ripe your mango is, give it a gentle squeeze. Ripe mangoes ‘give’ slightly under your fingers, while unripe mangoes remain firm to the touch and can be ripened at room temperature over a couple of days.
Why not get onto the viral mango trend this summer and cook up your own mango masterpiece? All you need is your imagination, recipes suited to a tropical twist, and lots of fresh, juicy and sweet Mmmmm…mangoes!
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Mango & Coleslaw Lettuce Boats with Sesame Dressing
These fresh and tasty mango lettuce boats make a colourful starter or delicious vegetarian main course and take only a few minutes to prepare. The dressing is so versatile and can be used on any salad and will keep stored in a sealed container in the fridge for a week.
Serves 4 – 6
Preparation time: 20 minutes
- 1 Baby gem or small cos lettuce, washed and patted dry
- 1 packet coleslaw mix
- 1 fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
- 2 ripe mangoes, peeled, stoned and sliced
- Sesame seeds, to garnish
- Fresh coriander, to garnish
For the Sesame dressing:
- 250 ml (1 cup) vegetable oil
- 60 ml (¼ cup) apple cider
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) soya sauce
- 45 ml (3 tbsp) sesame oil
- 15 ml (1 tbsp) honey
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 cm ginger, peeled and grated
- 30 ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice
- 125 ml (½ cup) tahini
- Start by making the dressing, place all the ingredients in a jar with a screw top lid and shake vigorously to combine.
- Carefully break the lettuce leaves into individual cups.
- Toss the coleslaw with the fennel and half the mango. Drizzle over a couple of spoonfuls of the dressing. Spoon onto the lettuce cups and arrange mango slices on top.
- Place the remaining dressing in a bowl.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and fresh coriander. Serve immediately with the extra dressing on the side.
ALL IMAGES TO BE CREDITED TO THE SOUTH AFRICAN MANGO GROWERS’ ASSOCIATION.