South Floridians are no strangers to the bounty that is the backyard mango, a delicacy that arrives in May and sticks around well through July. While of the over 2,000 known varieties of mango, some, like the Haden or the Glen, are particularly widespread here, Rane Roatta, co-founder of Miami Fruit, loves some of the rarer varieties, like citrussy, creamy Lemon Zest or Fruit Punch, a gorgeous cultivar that boasts a beautiful green-to-red gradient skin and a sweet, syrupy smell evoking its namesake.
According to Roatta, South Florida is particularly well-suited to mango growing thanks to the tropical climate.
“We are able to naturally grow mangos and pick them fresh off the tree,” he says, “whereas when mangos come from overseas they must be irradiated or boiled prior to entering the U.S.”
Since mango trees are known for being particularly bountiful, some lucky Miamians find themselves in a position of pawning off a surplus by the season’s end. But local Miami chefs have another solution: Instead of enjoying these local delicacies plain, they have crafted some genius ways to use them in recipes as varied and international as Miamians themselves.
Niven Patel, Mamey, Mango Grilled Cheese
“One of my favorite varieties is Nam Doc, as it is floral with passionfruit notes,” he says. “We also grow Southern Blush mangoes that are bigger in size and sweet. In contrast, the Carrie mango from India that grows here is a smaller mango, packed with flavor but not a lot of fiber.”
Beginning in March, he harvests green mangoes to use in dishes like his spicy green mango pickle, the perfect accompaniment to the traditional Indian dishes served at Ghee. Once the mangoes are ripe, the sweet fruits find their way into myriad dishes, from fresh mango-farro salad to mango custard to a mango-spiked white truffle and brie grilled cheese, a dish he dubs “a fan favorite at Mamey.”
“We were thinking about a good bar snack to serve on the rooftop, but we wanted to elevate it,” he says. “The grilled cheese is decadent and simple, with a tropical twist.”
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Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth, Stiltsville Fish Bar: Grilled Mango Salad
At their Stiltsville Fish Bar, chefs Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth are able to take advantage of ultra-local produce thanks to the backyard bounty of their staff.
“Nearly half of our staff, neighbors or family members have mango trees,” McInnis says. “This becomes a fun competition to see who can bring the best, sweetest and ripest mango in.”
Green mangoes are a welcome guest in their tempura soft shell crab dish, where the under-ripe fruit is married with yuca for a crisp slaw. The dish comes with a yuzu-mango habanero dressing and mango butter for a triple threat of fruity flair.
But when the mango crop is at its peak, these chefs dress it up simply: grilled mango served atop butter lettuce, radish and heirloom tomatoes, for a salad jazzed up with pickled onions for zingy acidity, an umami-rich sesame seed vinaigrette and a touch of sweetness thanks to candied pecans.
While a host of mango varieties would work in this dish, McInnis notes that their favorite is “usually the Champagne mango because of the texture and richness.”
“It’s creamy, sweet and lacks the fibrous texture that some of the other mangos have.”
Dayllan Regalado, Bakan Wynwood: Aguachile de Camaron con Mango Fresco
If you’ve never heard of aguachile, think of it as the Mexican answer to ceviche: fish and seafood seasoned with lime, salt and chile. At Bakan Wynwood, the natural sweetness of shrimp is echoed by mild, tropical mango. Celery and pumpkin seeds provide welcome textural contrast and crunch.
“We use local mangos for all of our dishes and drinks containing mango,” says chef Dayllan Regalado. “We use and support local farmers and they provide us with the best quality products we can find.”
Oscar Amaya, Rusty Pelican: Chilean Sea Bass With Mango and Papaya Salad
Haden mangoes are a made-in-Florida delicacy named for Captain John J. Haden, a retired army officer who, in 1902, planted four dozen Mulgoba mango seedlings on his Coconut Grove land. While Haden passed away the following year, his wife lovingly tended to the trees, which would bear the very first Haden mango: the parent of many other local cultivars.
Known for their beautiful color and super sweet flavor, Haden mangoes are the perfect addition to the Rusty Pelican‘s Chilean sea bass dish. Smoked sweet plantain mash and grilled Anaheim pepper form an earthy, smoky backdrop for the fresh fish and a sweet mango-papaya salad.
Tom Aviv, Branja: Fishwarma
At Branja, Masterchef Israel champ chef Tom Aviv digs into his Israeli roots in crafting a delicious portemanteau of a dish: The Fishwarma emulates the flavors of shawarma with a mix of fish, spices, pine nuts and paprika oil. Served atop creamy labneh tahini and finished with a fresh mango amba syrup, it’s a bold blend of flavors that’s sure to surprise and tantalize adventurous palates.
“We typically use Alphonso mangoes, as they are very sweet and smooth,” says Aviv. “They’re easily added to syrups and other dishes.”
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