Now that summer is starting, I’ve been buying a lot more produce, specifically mangos. Each time I cut my mango, I get worried I’m going to cut my fingers off because I have not been able to find a good way to get at it. (That, and, as you know, my knife skills leave something to be desired). Do you have any recommendations on the best / most efficient way to cut a mango?
There are a couple of ways I’ve seen to cut a mango, but the way I’ll describe makes the most sense to me. It’s easy, it’s safe (includes precautions against a rolling fruit), and it makes for a very attractive presentation.
Step one, peel the mango, using your vegetable peeler. It’s possible to cut the mango first and then remove it from the skin, but when following that method, you’re likely to get a bit of stringy texture to the fruit.
Next, cut a chunk off of the bottom of the fruit so that you have a level surface to rest it on to make your next series of cuts. There may be a bit of resistance, in which case, you’re also cutting off a sliver of the pit, but that’s okay–the main goal with this step is to make sure that all you cut during the rest of the process is the fruit (not your fingers).
Now, put the mango on the flat surface you’ve created. This will enable you to cut the bulk of the flesh off without having the mango roll and slide away from you. It’s never easy to cut a moving target, and there’s no reason why you should have to try.
The mango now has, you will notice, two broad sides and two narrow sides to it. The seed is in the middle of the fruit, and most of the meat is on the broad sides. Look at the fruit from the top. You should see that there’s a sharp peak in the center. This is the general outline of where the pit is. Cut down the broad sides where the pit isn’t. The mango should be soft, so if your knife runs into something hard, you’re trying to cut through the pit. Don’t. Back off from it slightly and you should slice through the tender fruit like a warm knife through butter.
Turn the mango around and repeat the process for the other broad side.
At this point, you should notice that the flat bottom you cut is no longer as steady as it used to be. Stop thinking of it as the bottom and plop that mango down onto one of those nice, broad, flat ends you just cut. A stable cutting surface is a safe cutting surface.
The pit comes out closer to the thin sides of the fruit than it does to the broad sides. Cut around it as best you can, remembering that the pit is curved and the ideal line will also be curved, not straight. If you don’t get all the meat off in your first go-round, you can always shave away at the seed until you have everything you can get off of it.
Next, put the pit off to the side and take the pieces you’ve cut from the mango. Use the point of your knife to slice through the fruit as thinly as possible. Try to keep the cut pieces in place as you slice them apart; it’ll be easier to plate the mango that way.
Slide your knife under the cut pieces and transfer them to a plate for service. I usually serve two people with one mango: First, I plate one broad side, fanning the slices slightly when I transfer them to the plate. Then, I lay one narrow side crosswise over top of that. If I have other fruit around (such as blueberries), I may opt to add a few of them to the plate as a tasty garnish.