For most Americans, the mango is not an everyday fruit. It's exotic, an indulgence, and perhaps even hard to approach — how, for example, do you cut one open? And once you get it open, what do you do with it besides eat it?
That's why we're here to answer all your questions and perhaps get you cooking with mango a little more often. It's a pity the mango doesn't grow here natively, because residents of tropical countries get to enjoy dozens of varieties of mangos, each with their own unique shape, size, texture, and flavor, just as we get to enjoy dozens of varieties of apples here.
For the most part, however, our choices are confined to just two varieties: the ubiquitous Tommy Atkins mango (otherwise known as just "a mango"), and the Ataulfo or champagne mango.
The Tommy Atkins has always been with us — generally imported from Mexico or Peru, they're fairly large, start off green, and get splotches of red as they continue to ripen off the tree. Once ripe, their flavor is bright and sweet, balanced with a bit of a tang.
On the other hand, the Ataulfo mango is much smaller, traffic-light yellow, and turns soft and wrinkly with black spots as it ripens. You can smell it ripening, too. When ripe, the flesh within is creamy, the sweetness more honey-like, and the pit is smaller. This is a better mango for eating, we think.
Now for the important question. How do you get one open? There are two ways. The easiest way also happens to be the way most people would do it if they were only planning on eating the mango, as opposed to cooking it.
Start by placing the mango with the stem facing up. Imagine that the pit occupies the center third of the mango. Slice straight down along one side of the pit, flip the mango around, and with your non-dominant hand firmly on the fruit, slice off the other side. Now you have two pieces and the pit. Take each piece and slice a crosshatch pattern into the flesh without puncturing the skin. Take one piece in both hands and push upward with your fingers from the bottom to expose the flesh. Repeat with the other piece. Peel the skin off the part containing the pit and get a few more slices off the top and bottom. Voilà.
But, if you're planning on cooking with the mango and need sliced or diced pieces, you'll have to do it the harder way. Take the mango in your non-dominant hand and, starting at the stem, peel the skin with a paring knife, rotating the mango as you go. It's best to go in a straight line from one side to the other, and keep going that way, but do whatever feels right. (Be careful as you get close to removing all of the peel, as the flesh can be quite slippery — you may want to wipe down your hands on a kitchen towel periodically.) Once all of the skin is off, slice off hunks of flesh from the pit as above, and then get a couple pieces off the top and bottom of the pit. Then, onto the next mango!
To put your newfound mango-slicing skills to use, we've created a few recipes for you to try at home, including this week's winning recipe Grilled Mango and Marinated Sirloin Kebabs by Drew Colbert, which we think you'll agree was the best recipe this week. Be sure to check out the slideshow for all of the other great recipes.
All of the recipes featured here can be made at home for about $40 or less, excluding the cost of small amounts of basic ingredients such as butter, oil, flour, sugar, salt, pepper, and other dried herbs and spices.
Will Budiaman is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.