Thanks to thousands of varieties, we can get mangos anytime of year. It’s not the end of summer — yet — but berries are waning, stone fruits have peaked and it’s not quite winter fruit season. Enter: the mango.
A good mango can serve as an interim fruit. I love mango salsa straight from the bowl, served with blue corn chips, but it’s also a great “sauce” for grilled fish, chicken or pork.
Before we get to the recipe, there is the matter of peeling and chopping the sucker. Even though most grocery stores stock refrigerated mango slices, they’ve been sitting in liquid for who knows how long, and will never taste as fresh as a mango you cut yourself.
Cutting the Mango — The Hedgehog Method
There is the “hedgehog” method of cutting, which I’ve never been terribly good at, and it makes for uneven cubes, but some people swear by it, so here’s how you do it:
Top Left: There is a big flat seed that runs through the middle of a mango so you can’t cut it in half. You can cut about 1/3 off each side of the seed.
Top Right: Score each “half” you sliced off with a sharp paring knife into cubes.
Bottom Left: Invert the scored mango so that the cubes stick up, like a hedgehog, by pushing up the skin until it flips inside out.
Bottom Right: Cut the cubes off, as close to the skin as you can.
Cutting the Mango — My Way
I like the cubes smaller, so I use a different method. I peel the mango first. And then start slicing from the outside in (on each side of the mango) in 1/4-inch slices until I reach the seed.
Top Left: You can get about 3, maybe 4, slices on each side of the flat seed.
Top Right: Of course, there’s still a lot of mango left clinging to the pit, so at that point I just start shaving it off. These pieces aren’t particularly attractive, but you can certainly use them for smoothies or a mango puree. They just won’t make pretty small dices for mango salsa.
Bottom Left: Stack the thin slices together and cut them into 1/4-inch slices.
Bottom Right: Turn the stack and cut the slices crosswise into 1/4-inch cubes (that’s called a “small dice” in kitchen lingo.
Now we’re ready to make the mango salsa. This is the fun part.
I’ve paired another fruit — cherry tomatoes — with this version, but they’re completely optional, and if it’s not tomato season… skip them.
I’m using a red jalapeño, but you can use green, or a serrano chile, or, if you can find one, a red Fresno. I’m also using mint. I always use mint in fruit salsas. It just gives it that extra “oomph.” And since I’m using lime juice, I first zest it and add that to the bowl before I cut the lime in half and squeeze in the juice.
You could add a couple tablespoons of olive oil, which would add some richness — and some healthy fat. It helps it hold together a little, too. Diced avocado would add some richness, too.
And there you have it. How to cut a mango and how to make an eye-catching mango salsa that shows off your knife skills. Class dismissed.
- 1 large, ripe mango (about 12 to 16 ounces)
- 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes (about 4 to 5 ounces)
- ¼ cup small dice red onion
- 1 red jalapeño, small dice (remove seeds for less heat)
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons chopped mint
- Zest and juice of ½ lime
- Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- Peel mango and working from the outside in, start slicing off ¼-inch thick slices. You should get about 3 or for slices per side of the mango. (you can shave off more mango to either use now or since it won't be as neat and pretty, save it for smoothies or a dessert sauce. It freezes well.)
- Stack the ¼-inch slices and cut into ¼-inch strips lengthwise. Turn and cut the slices crosswise into ¼-inch cubes
- Place mango cubes into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients, finishing with salt and pepper to taste.