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Seasons: mango mania

Susan Jung

 

If any fruit could be described as "voluptuous" and "seductive", it would be the Alphonso mango. Large and very fragrant, it's also juicy and sweet, and the texture is buttery-smooth. Unfortunately, the fruit is also rare: it has a season that lasts a mere two to three months and ends when the monsoon rains start in India. The best place to find the Alphonso in Hong Kong is at stores specialising in products from India.

As with all mangoes, you can tell when the Alphonso is ripe, first by smelling it (you don't even have to get up close - the scent is strong and pervasive) and then by touching it (the fruit will "give" slightly when pressed gently). Don't press too hard, though, or the flesh will bruise.

My favourite way to eat the Alphonso is straight from the peel. Lay it on a cutting board and use a sharp knife to cut off-centre through the fruit, parallel to one side of the flat seed. Turn the mango over and slice it again off-centre, so you end up with three pieces - two with the peel, and one with the seed. Take the two pieces in the peel and cut the fruit in a cross hatch pattern. Either scoop the flesh from the peel, using a large spoon, or bite and suck the mango from the peel. The latter is messy and inelegant - I advise doing it when you're alone, while leaning over a sink - but you lose less of the delicious juice. Then bite off the flesh from the seed.

The Alphonso also makes a delicious sorbet: purée the flesh, mix it with sugar syrup, add a little fresh lemon juice (to balance the sweetness) and process in an ice-cream machine. I've also eaten a mango jam that was almost as good as the fresh fruit.

 

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