Mangos are tricky, but once you learn their secret, they are easy as pie. (I never really got that idiom, because making a good pie takes a lot of work, but you get the gist.)
The secret is to dice them while the skin is still intact.
First, you need a ripe mango. (Duh.) Ripe mangoes smell sweet and give just a little when you press them with your thumb. Aim for a “semi-firm, ripe peach” feel. Like peaches, overly ripe mangoes are difficult to dice and taste “mushy.” No one wants that.
Once you have your mango, dicing it as easy as 1-2-3!
One: Mangos have a large, flat seed that runs down the center of the fruit. The flesh is firmly attached to it, and it must be cut away, so the first thing you need to do is identify where the seed is. The easiest way to do this is set the mango on the counter. It will naturally settle on it's side. The seed inside will be parallel to the counter.
To cut the flesh away from the seed, balance the mango on one of the thin sides and cut away the fruit from both sides of the seed. Try to get as close to the seed as possible - you will know you are there when your knife meets with resistance.
Two: Carefully score the mango with a paring knife. You determine the size of your finished diced mango by how close you make the scoring lines. If you do this in your palm, consider putting something between yourself and the mango to prevent injuries. Personally, I score mangoes on the counter - no worries there.
Three: Here’s the Magic! Place your thumbs gently on the face of the scored mango and your fingers underneath. Apply a little counter-pressure and Ta-DA! It pops inside out like magic! Cool, huh?
At this point, you can go a couple of ways:
- Eat it now: Just eat the little dices right off the skin. Easy-peasy. No muss, no fuss.
- Use it in a recipe or serve it in polite company: Hold the mango over a bowl or plate and, using a sharp paring knife, cut the mango away from the skin.
- Eat it later: Wait until your are ready to eat it before you pop it inside-out. I usually skin the flesh around the seed and then sandwich everything back together like this ↓ so I can pack it in my lunch. If you do this, be sure to pack an extra napkin for cleaning up after!
OK, I couldn't help myself - I just had to show you this little hedgehog that was living inside my mango. (The answer to your question is "whole allspice.")
Now that you know how to dice a mango the easy way, why not try out your new skills by making the delicious Caribbean Mango Salad?