Ataulfo mangoes: At stores, restaurants near you

The ataulfo: This variety of the tropical fruit will melt in your mouth

July 14, 2010 

Ataulfo mangoes: At stores, restaurants near you

In the grocery store or market, the sweet, orange-fleshed Ataulfo mango can be found under trade names Honey mango, or Champagne mango. They may also show up as Yellow or Young, too. Baby is a near-seedless variety. They are in season now, but shipments can be sporadic.

DREW PERINE — Staff photographer

  • Buying Ataulfo mangoes

    Checking for ripeness: “With greener skin mangoes or red skin mangoes, it’s hard to tell when they’re ripe, but this piece of fruit starts green and goes yellow like a banana. A lot more people understand the ripening of bananas,” said Christopher Ciruli, chief operations officer of Ciruli brothers, an Arizona-based importer of the Champagne brand Ataulfo mango.

    What color? “Definitely the yellow side. And, they should be soft when they are peeled and eaten. If they’re beautiful smooth yellow but more solid to the touch, they aren’t at their sweetest and juiciest yet,” explained Ted Kenney, co-owner of Galanga Thai Cuisine with wife Yim Kenney.

    What about the wrinkles? “Sometimes they’re at their best when they’ve gone past smooth and yellow, and have become somewhat wrinkled and puckered. Looking at them, you might think they’re overripe, but they’re not. They’re usually not at this point when you buy them, you have to wait a few days. Basically when you poke one, it should leave a noticeable indentation. Then it’s ready to eat,” said Kenney.

    Are bruises ok? “It’s a bit like buying bananas,” said Kenney. “You want to avoid the fruits with large dents and black marks and other damage. But (also like bananas) some of that is OK. They’re never going to all look perfect, and the blemished ones are often perfect inside. Occasionally, you do get a bad one, but the damage does not always correlate with anything visible on the outside of the fruit.”

    How to slice an Ataulfo mango

    1. Hold the mango with the small side facing up and the stem-side down. Cut the mango in half by slicing off the sides, cutting around the pit, then discard the pit in the center.

    2. Cut a crisscross pattern on each slice of mango, but do not pierce the skin.

    3. Gently press the skin inward with your thumbs, inverting the skin as you push the mango cubes out and away from the skin.

    4. Gently slice off the cubes with a knife, or use a spoon to scoop away the cubes from the skin. Discard skin. It has a bitter flavor that is not palatable.

    Source: Ciruli Brothers, importer of the Champagne brand Ataulfo mango.

    Mango Varieties

    Ataulfo: A small seed with a high flesh-to-seed ratio. Sweet and creamy with a firm texture. Vibrant yellow, shaped like a pear. Peak availability March through July. Primarily grown in Mexico.

    Francis: Rich, spicy and sweet flavor with a soft, juicy texture. Oblong S-shape. The color has green overtones, but becomes more golden as it ripens. Peak availability May to July. Primarily grown in Mexico.

    Haden: A rich, flavored mango with firm, fibrous flesh. Bright red with green and yellow overtones that turns more yellow as it ripens. Oval to round. Peak availability April to May. Primarily grown in Mexico.

    Keitt: Sweet and fruity, firm with some fiber. Dark to medium green with a pink blush and large and oval. The skin stays green, even when ripe. The peak availability is August-September. Primarily grown in Mexico and the United States.

    Kent: A sweet and rich mango with a juicy, low fiber flesh. The color is dark green. Large and oval. Available January to March, and June to August. Primarily grown in Mexico, Peru and Ecuador.

    Tommy Atkins: Mild and sweet, this mango has a firm, fibrous flesh. A dark red blush, with green and orange-yellow coloring. Oval or oblong, medium to large. Peak availability March to July and October to January. Primarily grown in Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru.

    Source: National Mango Board

When Ted Kenney first bit into an Ataulfo mango, he thought the sweet, orange flesh tasted like "buttah."

Haven’t heard of the Ataulfo? They have yet to reach widespread appeal, but they’ve achieved cult fruit status in some circles. You can find the mangoes now at several local markets branded under different trade names. If you’re lucky, you’ll find them on local restaurant menus as well.

Tacoma’s Galanga Thai Cuisine, which Kenney owns with his wife and chef Yim Kenney, serves Ataulfo mangoes on the dessert menu – sticky rice in a sweetened coconut milk sauce, with slices of the mango ($6.50). It’s a popular dish diners start to ask for as soon as the Ataulfo mango season begins in March.

Dave Johnson, assistant produce manager at Olympia’s Bayview Thriftway, has seen avid fans of the mango in his store. He said one Bayview customer visits the produce department every Tuesday searching for the mangoes. “When you find a good Ataulfo, it’s as a sweet as a peach and delicious,” he said.

In the markets, the orange-flesh mangoes can be labeled as Honey mangoes, or Champagne mangoes. Those are trade names for the Ataulfo.

They may show up at market as Yellow or Young, too. Baby is a variety of Ataulfo that is near seedless.

You might see a sticker on the mangoes that says “Freska.” That’s a company that imports the Ataulfo.

Whatever the marketing or trade name for the Ataulfo, the hallmarks of this mango are a buttery, soft orange- yellow flesh. The skin ranges from yellow-orange to golden-yellow when it’s near peak ripeness, and the shape resembles a pear.

They’re delicious when they turn a buttery shade of orange-yellow, but start much more green and bitter. Like your mangoes sweet, not tart? Follow this ripening rule: the more yellow, the more ripe, the more sweet. At their sweetest, they taste like the names “honey” or “champagne” imply – luscious, creamy with a full, floral sweetness. They’re delicious eaten by the slice, over ice cream, in smoothies or fruit salsa. According to the National Mango Board, most Ataulfos are grown in Mexico.

Ataulfo mangoes are in season now, but probably will cycle out of local markets in the next three weeks. If we’re lucky, we’ll find them through the first week of August.

They can be found in Asian stores, but also upscale grocery stores such as Tacoma’s Metropolitan Market. Bayview and Ralph’s Thriftways in Olympia both carry the Ataulfo mangoes when available. Shipments sometimes can be sporadic. Bayview’s Johnson had this advice, “It’s an intermittent source, so if you see them, you should buy them.”

East Asia Supermarket in Tacoma has had the mangoes consistently and in abundance in recent weeks. Last week, more than 20 cases were available at the front of the store.

Kenney said he became a convert to the Ataulfo variety at first taste. “I remember thinking, ‘This is a mango?’ Because these small yellow mangoes are completely different from the bigger red-green mangoes that used to be the standard,” wrote Kenney in an e-mail about his first taste of an Ataulfo.

“The red-green ones are what I was used to, from vacations as a kid in Hawaii,” he said. “I think the flavor of the honey mango is a lot more intense. And more importantly, the red-green mangoes have fiber – not to knock them, but they have a kind of stringiness when you eat them. Whereas, honey mangoes almost melt in your mouth when they’re ripe. My wife says the honey mangoes also have a stronger aroma than the red-green ones.”

The Kenneys recommend slicing the Ataulfos and adding to a green salad. The mangoes could be made into a salsa or coulis to serve with white fish, too.

Christopher Ciruli, chief operating officer of Ciruli Brothers, an Arizona produce company that imports the Champagne brand of Ataulfo mangoes, said he’s not surprised chefs and home cooks are becoming more interested in Ataulfos. “If you’re a chef and you’re into making purees or sauces, one (advantage) is that it has a very small seed compared to the other varieties,” said Ciruli. “It has a wafer-thin seed. You have a better meat-to-seed ratio.”

Also, the texture suits the mango for certain recipes, he said. “It purees and cooks up much better.” Ciruli added that Ataulfos yield a clean bite, and lack the stringiness of red-green mangoes. Some people find that buttery texture more palatable.

Ceruli described the Northwest as one of the best markets for his company’s Champagne mango. He credits the higher concentrations of Asian populations here.

“The kind of volume you see in the Pacific Northwest is ... amazing. I can send as much fruit to the Pacific Northwest as I can send into all of New York City,” said Ciruli.

“The Pacific Northwest is a smaller market than L.A. It should be a smaller market then the Bay area, but it’s not for mangoes. The Pacific Northwest is very savvy on mangoes.”

Sue Kidd: 253-597-8270 sue.kidd@thenewstribune.com

Sticky Rice with Mangoes

3 cups sticky rice (also called glutinous rice, see note)

11/2 cups coconut milk

11/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

7-9 ripe Honey mangoes, depending on size and taste

Note: Sticky rice comes in white and black variants. Usually it’s the white sticky rice that is served with fresh mango. It’s also sometimes labeled as glutinous rice in stores.

Soak the sticky rice in water for three hours prior to cooking. Drain off water. Place the rice in a sticky rice cooking basket (available at Asian grocery stores). Place basket pointy-side down in a pot/kettle containing water. The tip of the basket should not be in the water. Place a lid on the top of the basket. Boil the water and steam the sticky rice for 20 minutes. Do not add water to the sticky rice, it cooks through steaming.

TNT test kitchen tip: If you don’t have a cooking basket specifically made for cooking sticky rice, try a metal colander. We placed the sticky rice in a metal colander with very small holes (large holes may allow in too much moisture) set over a steaming pot of water, covered, then cooked for 20 minutes. We also tested the recipe using a mesh strainer set over simmering water for 20 minutes. Both methods worked equally well, but may require a few extra minutes of cooking time. Depending on the size of your colander or strainer, you may need to cook in batches. If texture of rice is too wet, use a cheesecloth to line the colander or mesh strainer.

While sticky rice is steaming, prepare the sauce. Combine the sugar, salt, coconut milk and simmer and stir until mixed well and sugar is dissolved. When sauce is finished, set aside one-half cup to use as a topping for the dessert.

When sticky rice is finished steaming, remove from basket and combine with the remaining sauce. Mix well. Let sit 8-10 minutes.

Peel and slice fresh mangoes. Place individual-sized helpings of sticky rice on serving plates. Rice can be flattened or heaped. Arrange mango slices around sticky rice. Top each serving of rice with 2-3 teaspoons of sauce.

Optional: Sprinkle sticky rice with sesame seeds and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Source: Ted and Yim Kenney, Galanga Thai, Tacoma

Mango With Lime and Chili Powder

1 mango

1 lime

Chili powder

Salt

Slice the mango into bite-size pieces. Squeeze lime over pieces (use less if mango is not ripe). Sprinkle with chili powder to your tolerance.

Sprinkle lightly with salt.

Note: Whether I’m in Mombassa, Oaxaca or Bangkok I’ve noticed that the locals have all developed the same recipe for bringing out mangos’ distinctive flavor.

Street vendors all across the globe have hit upon four flavors that go together like the four elements: mangoes, chili powder, salt and lime.

And the good thing about this combo is that you don’t need ripe mangoes to make it work. It makes a great appetizer – or dessert – for an Asian, Mexican or African meal.

Craig Sailor, staff writer

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Mango Sauce

Yield: Serves 2

For the Panna Cotta:

1/3 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons sugar

3/4 tsp Knox gelatin

1/2 cup buttermilk

For the Mango Sauce:

1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and pureed

1/2 cup dessert wine

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cinnamon stick

For the panna cotta: Stir together cream and sugar over low heat; simmer until sugar has dissolved. Whisk in gelatin until dissolved then stir in buttermilk. Pour into two 6- to 8-ounces heart-shaped molds and chill for a few hours until set.

For the sauce: Simmer puréed mango, wine, sugar and cinnamon over low heat for 10 minutes. Let cool and remove cinnamon stick.

To serve, unmold onto individual dessert plates and top with mango sauce.

Source: Recipe provided courtesy of the National Mango Board

Grilled Chicken with Mango Ginger Chutney

2 to 21/2 lbs chicken breasts, boneless, skinless

1 large ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and pureed

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

For the Mango Chutney:

2 large ripe mangos, peeled, pitted, and chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

1/2 tablespoon lime zest

1/4 teaspoon allspice

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Pierce surface of meat with a fork and place in a resealable plastic bag with puréed mango, balsamic vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Seal bag and marinate in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight

Combine all chutney ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir well. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Uncover and simmer over low heat for a few minutes more to cook off excess liquid; let cool. (May be made up to 2 weeks ahead. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator.)

When ready to serve, remove chicken from marinade and grill over medium coals for about 5 to 7 minutes on each side minutes, or until cooked through. Serve with Mango Chutney.

Serving Tips: Leftover chutney is delicious when spread on cold or grilled ham sandwiches.

Source: Recipe provided courtesy of the National Mango Board

Spinach Salad with Mango Vinaigrette

1 (10 oz) bag baby spinach

11/2 ripe mangos, peeled, pitted, and cubed

1 medium tomato, cored, seeded, and finely chopped

1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

1/3 cup green onions, sliced

1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese

freshly ground pepper to taste

For the Mango Vinaigrette:

1/2 mango, peeled, pitted, and pureed

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Mango Vinaigrette: Combine mango, extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic vinegar and salt in a blender container or small food processor; blend until smooth.

Place spinach, mango, tomato, walnuts and green onions in a large bowl. Drizzle with Mango Vinaigrette and toss well to coat. Add blue cheese and toss again very lightly.

Serve immediately with freshly ground pepper.

Source: Recipe provided courtesy of the National Mango Board

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