Sitting in the swelteringly hot office of Fresh Mango Exports Inc. is the chief sales and distribution manager, ‘Rocky’ Albert, cooling his lined and oily visage with a hand held fan. In walks Sunny, the youthful and earnest head of picking and packing. “Albert my friend, we have a problem. Last night’s storm has caused windfall in the mango grove. The fruit is nowhere near ripe. It looks like we’ll lose our shirts on it.” Albert’s leathery face breaks into a sly grin. “Don’t worry your pretty head Sonny, even if the cricket team don’t take them for practice, I’ll sell them to the Irish. They wouldn’t know a ripe mango if it fell off the tree on their heads.”
This little vignette, or something similar, is the only thing that can explain the dire quality of most of the hard, dark green and slightly bitter mangos available here in Ireland. I really don’t understand why we are treated so badly by Fresh Mango Exports Inc. But, let’s leave that debate for another day. I was lucky enough to find one near ripe mango in the local supermarket. That got me thinking. I bought it and two of it’s windfallen brethren to make a recipe of my own devising, Sous Vide Hasselback Pork with Mango.
- 3 mangos (ripe if you can get them, though the unripe make for a great sauce)
- 1 pork fillet (rare breed, good quality pork if you can get it)
- 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika
- Half a teaspoon of salt
- Half a teaspoon of black pepper
For the sauce, you will also need 8 to 10 slices of ginger and a teaspoon or two of sugar.
Firstly, peel and slice the mango into appropriate half circle sized slices. Then trim the pork of membrane. Slice the pork the same way you would for Hassleback potatoes (almost all the way through. If you are in doubt, look at the photo below.
Cut the pork steak into two (or three if it’s large). Spread the salt, pepper and paprika on a plate and roll the pork in the mixture. Place the sliced mango into the slits.
Be very careful with the next stage as the prepared meat is difficult to handle. Slide the meat into a sous vide bag. Vacuum seal (or use the immersion method, if you like) the pork steaks.
Now the important bit. Pop the sealed bag into the sous vide for an hour to an hour and a half at 53ºC (128ºF). Take it out, and carefully pat the meat dry. Brown the outside of the meat (for a bit of crunch and to make the cooked meat look a bit attractive).
While the meat is cooking, make the sauce. Rocky Albert and his rock hard mangos are not going to get the better of us! Peel and slice the mangos. I cut diagonals, working towards the side of the big seed in the middle of the fruit. Place the flesh, ginger slices and some sugar in a saucepan. Add a little water as a starter and simmer over a medium heat, stirring regularly. With the crappy, bowling ball-hard, mangos we get here, this will take about an hour. Elsewhere in the world, where ripe mango is available, it could take 2 minutes. If you have ripe mangos, don’t add any sugar. You might even add some lemon juice instead.
Pick out the ginger slices when the sauce is as good as cooked. Then use an immersion blender to make a nice smooth sauce.
I served the meat sitting on a good dollop of the sauce and accompanied by a spicy and herby couscous mixture. It was really delicious.
I do encourage you to try this simple bit of sous vide magic. As long as the guys at Fresh Mango Exports Inc. don’t get their act together, we will always have a way to use the hard mangos, even if the cricket team don’t want them, we will hit it out of the park with this recipe.