Let Me Help You! Episode One: Mangoes

Well hello there, gentle readers! I know, it’s been too long since we spoke last and I am gravely sorry. School really has gotten the best of me and even with all of my efforts I wasn’t able to stay organized and sane and thus I was sucked into a studying, cramming, raving, lunatic phase for quite some time there. Hopefully things will stay on track from here on out, but if not, you’ve been warned.

In other news, I’m completely in love with Blogilates. What is that you ask? Cassey Ho, a fitness instructor from California has set up a website and YouTube channel completely devoted to Pilates routines FOR FREE. Totally free. You just go there, click on one, work out, and that’s it. It’s amazing. I’m addicted. More on that later. On to the main event…

As I’ve said before, I used to work in a restaurant. It wasn’t for a long time, but I learned a lot about preparing foods and making shit look pretty. Mostly I made sushi, shucked oysters, made salads, worked the “go between” station between salads and entrees, and did prep work. The prep work is really where I learned a lot of these tasks. I can peal a potato like its nobody’s business, let me tell you. But there are ways of doing things in a restaurant that we might not necessary think of at home. At home it doesn’t matter if all your cuts are uniform and all your pieces are even. At home it doesn’t matter if you butcher something because you’re the only one that sees it. When someone is paying for something, they want it perfect, as we all know from our consumer backgrounds.

My spotlight today is on the mango. Now, please excuse the unripeness of my mango. I didn’t take a lot of time selecting one from the store, but it will do for demonstration purposes. For future reference, the color of a mango (unlike other fruits), does not give any indication of whether or not it is ripe. Squeeze the mango and it should give a little bit. Think like peaches and avacados, they all become softer as they ripen. Another rule of thumb that I use is to smell it. If you can sort of smell the mango through the skin it should be okay. I primarily use this with cantaloupe but have found it useful for other fruits that you remove from their skin.

The first thing you’ll want to do is to cut the bottom of the mango so that it is level. You don’t need to take a lot off, just think about how you would level a cake before assembling it.

Now, don’t be afraid to use a big knife. When I first started working I tried to use the paring knife for everything and then as I got used to working with the big guns, it’s way easier, trust me.

Next you’ll want to stand your mango up and shave off the skin like you would an apple. Sometimes I will cut the top off too for better visualization, but it’s not necessary. Be sure to get all of the rind off because it is BITTER. If you don’t believe me, just pop one of those pieces into your mouth. Sick.

Keep going until you’ve removed all of the peel and you end up with a naked mango.

Next, you’ll want to find the pit of the mango. It runs vertically and is a weird shape. If you’ve ever tried to cut a mango in half, you’ll find the pit. The is the part where it helps to cut off the top piece as well. You have better visualization of where the pit is. Once you locate the pit, you’ll want to cut parallel to it, letting the knife do the work as you slide down the fruit.

You’ll want to do that on both sides, cutting as close to the pit as you can. The you can also shave down the sides to make sure you get the most from your fruit.

Now for the next part, there are several ways to chop up your freed mango. What I do is take the thicker slices, cut them in half and then slice them thinly to get nice, uniform strips. If you want thicker chucks, then you can just cut them up like that. We used mangoes in several dishes in the restaurant, but I almost always would need to slice them into uniform strips and then either leave them as such, or dice up those strips. It’s your mango, so it’s your call.

Voila! No more having to pay $2 extra for pre-sliced mangoes, because you are now a mango cutting machine.

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