The mere mention of "Green Mangoes and Bagoong" will likely excite the salivary glands of almost any Filipino. It's true.
Green Mangoes and Bagoong.
Green Mangoes and Bagoong!
Green Mangoes and Bagoong!!!
The pairing of sour unripe mangoes dipped in salty fermented shrimp paste (Bagoong) may not sound too appealing to some, but it's a mouth-watering combination for most Filipinos. In fact, after reading the first few lines of this post, I'm sure that there are some gleek-covered computer screens out there due to the certain downpour of Pavlovian drool.
Up until recently though, my own Pavlovian response to green mangoes and bagoong did indeed entail salivation... except it was the sort of salivation associated with nausea. Yeah, vomit spit (ewww). You see, when I was a wee lad I would recoil in horror as I watched my mother snack on this sour/salty delicacy. Eating unripe fruit was strange enough to me as a child, but to then dip and smother the unripe fruit in stinky rotting shrimp was altogether... well, it was just plain gross.
For those who have never had the pleasure of eating bagoong, it is a very pungent and salty paste comprised of itty-bitty teeny-weeny fermenting shrimp. While Bagoong is salty in flavor, its funky aroma is kinda like if anchovies had feet, and wore dirty socks with an old pair of sneakers, and walked around town in the afternoon sun, in July--but in a good way.
As I've gotten older though, I have learned to enjoy Bagoong in tiny doses. Heck, I even made a salad with it. However, I've always avoided eating bagoong where it is one of the primary in-your-face ingredients--such as the condiment for green mangoes. But I must confess that I've finally discovered the virtues of this classic pairing.
Looks strange to some, but it's dang tasty to others.
To put it simply, green mangoes and bagoong is like the Filipino version of salt and vinegar potato chips--except way better. The sourness of the unripe mango is cut by the salty fishiness of the bagoong, or vice-versa. Either way, I discovered it was a sour-salty snack of which I couldn't get enough. All these years my poor tastebuds were in a deep sleep of boring. Now though, my mouth waters whenever I think of crisp mangoes dipped in funky shrimp paste.
Green mangoes are often sold in Asian markets, bagoong as well. To pick a green mango, choose a fruit that is still firm and has a skin that is entirely green.
To pick a jar of bagoong, you can go with the "raw" versions that are bright pink and labeled as "Bagoong Alamang." To prepare the bagoong, just saute a few spoonfuls in a small pan with some chopped garlic and onions, a little bit of oil, and some sugar to taste if you'd like. You can even throw some hot sauce in the mix too. You can also make things easier on yourself by buying the "cooked" version of Bagoong that is labeled as "Ginisang Bagoong."
Also, if a dip in bagoong is still troublesome for you, a sprinkling of good sea salt on a crisp wedge of green mango is a suitable substitute (though not nearly as tasty).
Of course though, I did find a way to mess with an already classic and impossibly easy-to-make snack...
Fried Green Mangoes!
Yeah, I know. Why would someone want to go to the trouble of breading and frying green mangoes when the are ready to eat as is? Well, because they are breaded and fried it may be a good change of pace to the old standby. Also, besides the added texture, frying the green mango brings out a bit of sweetness, though the mango still remains quite sour.
While I admit that the standard preparation of green mangoes and bagoong is the better preparation, breading and frying the mangoes was a fun and tasty experiment that I think many will enjoy. Think of it as another take on fried green tomatoes--but with a side of funky bagoong.
Fried Green Mangoes
1 large green mango, peeled and cut into wedges
Rice flour for dredging
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying
Dredge the mango wedges in the rice flour, shaking off any excess. Dip the wedges in the buttermilk, then roll them in the Panko bread crumbs to evenly coat. Set the coated wedges on a wire rack for a few minutes for the breading to set.
In a large frying pan, heat 1/4-inch of oil over medium high heat. Fry the mango wedges until golden brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. You don't want to "cook" the mango, you just want to quickly brown the crust--the mango should still be firm after frying.
Serve fried green mangoes with a side of bagoong (or ketchup or hotsauce or whatever condiment you like).