Mangoes are a delicious and sweet tropical fruit that deserves to be displayed on a fruit platter with pride. But cutting and preparing them for display can be a hassle. All that softness and juiciness makes it tricky to peel and cut them, and the longer you fiddle around with them, the mushier they get. If your attempts to cut a mango elegantly have been foiled too many times, here’s all you'll need to do it properly.
Ripe mangoes are notoriously hard to peel by hand. If you like to peel your mangoes, then it’s best to use a sharp fruit peeler or turning knife. Tabletop electric peeling machines are also an option, and they can save you a lot of time. They usually rotate the mango on a spike while a small knife scrapes the peel away within seconds. But most people prefer to cut the mango first, and then scrape the fruit away from the peel.
Mangoes have a long, flat, and very hard seed at their core. As soon as you insert your knife on either side of this stone, you’ll feel the pit jamming it. So, to cut the flesh off the mango you need to first pit the fruit. Work around the curve of the stone to cut the cheeks off. Simply make two parallel cuts about 1cm apart at the top of the fruit, and run your knife through these cuts to the bottom. The cheeks will come off on either side, and the middle slice with the stone in it can be trimmed and scraped so no flesh goes to waste.
If you want your cuts to be perfect, you could also use a mango slicer or splitter. These handheld or tabletop devices can very quickly separate the pit from the flesh, if you position them correctly. Once this is done, you can focus your energy on scraping wedges of flesh off the pit and cutting the cheeks of the mango whichever way you like to.
Now that the cheeks are off, you could cut the flesh vertically in strips. The flesh can be very thin, so it’s best to hold a kitchen towel under the mango cheek to avoid injuring yourself with the knife. To cut the strips off, simply turn the cheek inside out. While it’s cupped, with flesh strips protruding, insert a knife just under the peel and gently slice the strips off, one by one.
The most iconic mango cut is the hedgehog style. This method involves cutting both vertical and horizontal lines across the cheek of the mango. When you’re done cutting parallel lines across the flesh, simply turn the cheek inside out. The rounder the mango, the more impressive the display will be, with beautiful golden chunks protruding from it in rows. If the mango is ripe, your guests can simply scoop the mango chunks off the peel with a spoon.
If your mango is very ripe and you’re feeling adventurous, you could try the hedgehog method with a twist. Take a knife and make a shallow diagonal cut across one side of the fruit, going around the cheek until you come full circle. The peel should come off easily. Then use your knife to cut the exposed fruit across, all the way to the pit. When you’re done, you should have the hedgehog look on one side of the fruit.
If you have a cob or a pair of special fruit spikes, poke them vertically through the center of the mango. As you hold the mango steady in one hand with the cob, carve vertical lines across the fruit. You should get thin wedges that you can then peel the skin from.
The great thing about the hedgehog method is that you can scoop the mango chunks right off the peel with a spoon. But if you want to spare your guests the trouble, you can cut the cubes off the peel yourself, before serving the mango. Insert your knife on the edge of the peel, which looks like a grid with protruding cubes. Slide the knife across the peel, and Voila! The cubes come right off.
If you’d rather serve your mango in slices, as you do with sticky rice, then it’s best to peel the fruit first. Pit the fruit as explained above. Discard the pit. Then take the cheek and cut it in slices. You can cut it sideways or lengthways, whichever way you prefer.
If you’re craving a mango smoothie, the way you cut it won’t make much of a difference. So, nobody would think less of you if you just peel the mango (with your bare hands even, if it’s ripe enough), and then chop aimlessly at the mango, slicing every which way. But be sure to avoid the pit.
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