Happy mango season!
I share the same enthusiasm as that girl eating them straight off the tree.
My grandma warned me about biting open mangos, though. In the summer she and her cousins would pick wild turpentine mangos bursting with juice, then sit at the edge of the river on buckets to eat them. They’d bite them open and slurp them, getting covered in mango juice. By the next day, they’d all have rashes around their mouths. Not everyone’s allergic, but so many of us are. There’s urushiol in mangos, the same stuff in poison ivy and poison oak, and it’s especially concentrated in the sap (thankfully not so much in the pulp). When they’re ripe on the tree, you’ll see that sticky sap dripping down the sides of the fruit. I wear gloves to pick them. I also always tilt them away from me rather than toward me when I pick them, because the sap squirts out of the stem in that direction. If I get that resinous sap on me, I scrub it off with dish soap to cut it.I try my best, but when my kitchen is piled high with them, the mango rash is inevitable. They’re worth it. A really good mango makes everything better, even itchy rashes and steamy Florida summers. Here’s my first recipe of the season. It’s a cool, crisp slaw with bright flavors to go alongside whatever you’re putting on the grill. No exact measurements here, sorry to my type-A friends. It starts with red onions pickled in lime juice and zest and some honey. I like to make them a day ahead to give them time to mellow out (plus I like it when they’re hot pink). The juice from that makes the dressing to toss with mango, jicama, and jalapeño matchsticks. A little cilantro on top. That’s it. Enjoy this and every last mango you can get your hands on. Just try not to bite them open.
Spicy Mango Jicama Slaw
- 1 small, or half a large jicama, julienned
- 1-2 firm-ripe mangos, julienned
- 1-2 jalapenos, julienned
- pickled red onion recipe follows
Honey-Lime Pickled Red Onions
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/3-3/4 cup lime juice
- zest of 2 limes
- 1-4 tbsps honey to taste
- 1/2 tsp salt
- To make the Pickled Red Onions: Pack a jar with sliced red onions. Whisk the lime juice, zest, and salt in a bowl. Whisk in honey to taste (it will serve as the dressing). Pour over the red onions to cover. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Toss the jicama, mango, and jalapenos. Add as many pickled red onion slices as you like (I use about a third of a cup). Spoon the juice from the jar over the slaw, or enough to flavor everything but not drench it with excess liquid (you can always add more right before serving). Refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes, or until ready to serve. Sprinkle on cilantro just before serving.