You may have walked around the Islands from Sept through to Jan and seen the red green mangoes weighing down the trees and the sweet smell of those that have split open on the ground.
These trees seem to be the domain of children, and in mago season in Samoa its rare to go past a ripe mago laden tree without little bodies twisting and turning in the branches to get the juiciest of the lot.Not many people have escaped that particular yellow mango stain down your clothes when you just have to bite into the flesh and let the juice run down your chin.
This is our little Coco celebration of the humble mago to make you dream of warm Island days and sweet sticky flavours.
As well as being a taste sensation and an awesome flavour kick starter to nearly every known cuisine, its a clever little plant that also has medicinal uses for upper respitory and oral infections like gingivitis.
Mangoes grow right across the Pacific and Asia where they originated and it is one of those superfruits like blueberries and avocados. The ripe mango has lots of vitamin A (good for healthy eyes and your immune system) and the unripe fruit is high in vitamin C (helps your body absorb iron). Like the banana, mango has lots of potassium (for regulating your blood pressure) and if you eat just one mango, you've consumed about 12% of your daily fibre requirement.
Guess which plants the mango is related to? Surprisingly, it's a cousin of the cashew and pistachio which explains its kinda giant cashew like shape. But like many things in life, not every mango is like another. There are heaps of different varieties across the Pacific, and in Samoa there are five main types that you will see everyday at the makeki in mago season, or the many stalls on the side of the road. Its argued that the sweetest mango is the mago susu - called such because its got a prominent 'tip' that you bite of and then suck the mango juice up through. Like a susu I suppose..or could it be that the mango flesh is also slightly milky like susu. Then there is the mago afa - the big red and gold super juicy ones that can grow to a huge size like these guys: There is also the mago fuamoa - so called because of their smaller egg shaped variety. Then there is the mago oka -so called because you can eat it slightly 'maka' or raw like an oka. These ones are good eaten green and crunchy with salt or a shrinking of chilli powder. How to pick the perfect mago: Go to the makeki in fugalei and look for the many piles of mago but do a good circuit before you choose the perfect mago. Currently you can get 5 magos for 10 tala or as little as 5 tala depending on your haggling skills When buying your mangoes, give them a quick sniff. The more fragrant the fruit at the stem end, the tastier it is likely to be. Also give it the squeeze test, as you would with a peach or avocado. If the fruit 'gives' a little, then it's ready to be eaten. Remember that the redness of a mango is not an indication of ripeness. Mago are used in curries in Fiji, drunk as Otai in Tonga, used in lots of salads by palagis and often in cocktails like this Coconut Mango Margarita! But they come into their own particularly as a dessert food -cue mango pavlova, mango fruit salad and this beautiful hot Mago Poi made with sago for the ultimate hot comfort food :http://www.samoafood.com/2012/01/poi-mago-mango-pudding.html Or just ravage them straight away and let all the juicy goodness just dribble all over you :)
LEARN HOW TO JUDGE RIPENESS SO YOU CAN ALWAYS USE THE PERFECT MANGO IN YOUR DISH
- Don't focus on color. It is not the best indicator of ripeness.
- Squeeze the mango gently. A ripe mango will give slightly.
- Use your experience with produce such as peaches or avocados, which also become softer as they ripen.
- Ripe mangos will sometimes have a fruity aroma at their stem ends.
- The red color that appears on some varieties is not an indicator of ripeness. Always judge by feel.