A Technique for Cutting Mangoes

Times Staff Writer

Question: Do you have a perfect way of cutting and eating mangoes so that they don’t make one look like a clumsy, messy eater? Help!

Answer: Here’s a technique that is frequently used in the Orient, where mangoes abound. The trick was adapted by Trader Vic’s at the Beverly Hilton after a loyal regular customer discovered the method while visiting in Hong Kong.

Stand the mango lengthwise on the narrow seam. Slice close to the flat seed on each side. Score a grid (about half an inch spacing) through the flesh but not through the skin. Press on the outside center of each of the two halves, popping them inside out. Remove the skin from the center piece and serve all three sections on crushed ice in a large shallow bowl. Eat with a dessert spoon.

Q: On a recent trip to Maui I discovered how delicious mangoes are. Would you please give some advice on the safety of eating the skin of mango? I like to cut the whole fruit in slices and eat the skin as well as the meat, but I heard someone say that the mango was related to the poison ivy family and might cause skin irritations.


Also, what vitamins do mangoes have and what is their caloric content?

A: Mangoes, like poison ivy, poison oak and pistachio fruit, are members of the cashew (Anacardiaceae) family and can cause varying degrees of toxic symptoms in individuals. Obviously, the toxicity is milder in mangoes, a universally popular fruit, than in poison ivy or poison oak. The cashew fruit has also been known to cause allergic reactions for some people who have eaten the whole fruit.

Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing whether one is sensitive to mangoes until the fruit is tried and symptoms are exhibited. In Hawaii, some restaurants offer emergency relief (antihistamine treatment) to those who, after eating the fruit, show allergic symptoms like respiratory blockage. Some individuals are also sensitive to the oil in the skin of mangoes and therefore cannot touch the fruit but surprisingly can eat the fruit without any problem.

In other parts of the world the skins of unripe or half-ripe green-skinned mangoes are eaten with the firm, crisp and whitish flesh. These are eaten as a condiment or snack with salt or sometimes preserved into pickles and chutneys. A 3 1/2-ounce edible portion of mango (about half of a mango) contains 66 calories and is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium, calcium and phosphorus. There’s a little more Vitamin C in green mangoes than in ripe ones.


Q: Can you please tell me what barley malt syrup, an ingredient listed in some food products, is?

A: Barley malt syrup is a natural sweetener that is composed mainly of maltose. It is made by soaking and sprouting the barley to make malt, then combining it with more barley and cooking it until the starch is converted to sugar. The mash is then strained and cooked down to a syrup or dried into a very sweet concentrated powder (called barley malt powder). Barley malt syrup is about 40% as sweet as sucrose.

Q: Can you please tell me why I shouldn’t add salt to my corn when boiling?

A: Quite a few corn recipes, particularly old recipes, advocate the omission of salt when boiling the vegetable. The theory is that salt, which in the old days contained much calcium aside from traces of all other elements, causes the skin of corn kernels to become tough during cooking. Today’s table salt is processed to produce a purer product and therefore contains a minimum of calcium that would toughen corn and other vegetables like peas and lima beans during cooking.