Growing up in Malaysia, I was very much spoiled by all the exotic tropical fruit varieties. From the seasonal Durian ‘King of Fruits’ and Mangosteen, the mighty Queen, to mangoes that are amongst the royal fruits you will see everywhere throughout the year. Fruits are abundantly available, so much so that restaurants are always coming up with fresh new ideas to incorporate fruits into the local dishes, eg. Durian with sticky rice and fried fish with Dragon fruit sauce, just to name a few. Ripe mangoes are used to cook dishes like Mango Chicken, whereas fresh, unripened mangoes are used in most fruit salads, eg. Rojak. Ripe green mangoes impart a distinct sweet and tangy flavor to any chicken or shrimp dish, especially when rendered spicy.
Out of the three mango varieties that I am fond of, two were grown in our family garden. Apple Rumanis, sweet and tangy apple-shaped mangoes with a crunchy texture and Champagne / Honey Mangoes, aka Manila Mangoes, which are super sweet and juicy, and bigger than the kind found in the USA, roughly 5-6 inch long. Some of the best moments in my life were shared with my dad around the garden. I vividly remember how exciting it was during mango picking time when we couldn’t wait till we finished picking them and started peeling them off and enjoying them right under the trees. The third variety came from a tree that grew right outside our house and it bore green mangoes throughout the year for, much to the delight of any lucky passer-by. When those mangoes ripen, they emit a highly aromatic and unique scent and to this day, remain my personal favorite over the yellow kind. For those unripe mangoes, my folks would put them in a rice bucket, buried in the rice for a few days. Remember those days?
One of the most popular uses of mango in Malaysian cooking is in making Mango Chicken. And there are two delicious versions. The first one is more of a Thai influence using mango slivers with other shredded veges served with crispy chicken and a sweet spicy sauce. The other is a stir-fried version with chicken and mango slices. The latter style being the one more popular in the USA because it’s widely offered by most, if not all of the Malaysian restaurants here.
Unlike other sweet-sauced chicken dishes, eg. Sweet and Sour Chicken and Orange chicken, stir-fried Mango chicken does not use any frying batter. It is certainly an appetizing dish that will satisfy your tastebuds when you are in mood for something light and tangy. Just be sure to pick up a nice fresh, ripe or medium ripe mango, which I prefer. Let the mango work it’s magic. Simmer the mango until the juices surrender and you will definitely be on your way to a truly delicious Malaysian Mango dish!
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