Green Turtle Mango Recipe

SUBHEAD: A green mango can be a complex delight - salty, tangy, sweet and sour.

 By Juan Wilson on 13 October 2009 for Island Breath -

When we (Linda Pascatore and I) moved to Hanapepe Valley, in September 2001, we discovered a large Haden mango tree in our backyard. There were no more mangoes on it but, late the next spring it produced a huge number of fruit that matured in July and August. The ripe fruit was delicious, but at the time, I had no use for the green fruit.

Image above: Turtle-back cut on a green Haden mango. All photos by Juan Wilson.

Some local kids in the neighborhood (all Kali Ohana cousins) taught me a use for the green fruit that I had not imagined. They urged my to try the fruit with a custom sauce. There were many variations, depending on one's taste. Besides the sauce, how one cuts the green mango is an important part to the process. When I shared mangoes with the kids we ate them outside, dripping on the lawn. We used the "turtle back" cut. At least that what the kids called it, so I'll call this recipe Green Turtle Mango.

The first task is to find the right green mango. Our Haden tree produces fruit that stays green through a time when the fruit gets quite sweet while remaining sour. A hint that the a mango might be a good candidate for the recipe is it has a hint of yellow in some small area of the skin. Another hint is a slight palpability.

However, basically the fruit is hard and green. This fruit will be too tart for many to enjoy without the magic sauce. We have found that cutting the bulk of the sides off the mango first is the best start for a number of uses. This requires looking at the fruit to decide on the orientation of the flattened seed inside.

Near the tip of the Haden (away from the stem) there is often a secondary bump that aligns with the seed. Use this as a guide and cut along a plane at least a third of the way through the fruit an each side of the mango.

Take a cut side of the mango and slice a grid into the flesh of the fruit without piercing the skin. I like squares of about a half inch in each direction. Once the grid is cut, hold the fruit with fingertips on the edge and thumbs on the back skin. Then, invert the fruit into the "turtle-back" (see photo above).

Image above: Mixing the magic sauce for Green Turtle Mango.

 As mentioned, the sauce can vary widely. Sometimes hot sauce is even added. I like to use (in order of volume): Soy Sauce (Ohsawa Organic Glutten-Free Tamari) Vinegar (Heinz Apple Cider) Sweetener (Wholesome Brand Organic Raw Blue Agave) Salt (Hanapepe Salt Pond variety) Mix to taste.

Then drizzle some over the turtle-back mango. I recommend when you eat this stand over the kitchen sink or go out onto the lawn. Hold the turtle-back by the edges (this time back facing you) and slobber it down .

Try a few variations to get the balance right. The idea is to achieve a balance between the flowery sour flavor of the mango, with sweet, acidic, salty, tangy, and spicy. It is a very complex set of flavors that delight the senses.

See also:
 Ea O Ka Aina: Freezing Plantain 9/23/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Peak Macadamia Nut 9/22/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Get out your ulu (breadfruit) 7/19/09
Island Breath: Backyard Taro 5/24/05

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