Green Mango Relish
Have you ever bought a Green Mango before? I haven't until now.
I had to ask my mother about it and it was not an easy conversation. Sometimes, she doesn't make any sense! Our heated conversation went something like this:
Me: Do I just buy a mango that is not ripe?
Mom: Yes, get a green mango.
Me: Aren't all mangoes green?
Mom: No, some mangoes get yellow/orange inside but green mangoes don't.
Me: But if I get a firm, young mango, it should be fine right? I will just use it right away before it gets ripe sitting out on the counter.
Mom: No. These green mangoes don't get ripe. Ever. They can sit on your counter for days and still don't get ripe.
Me: Then how do I know if I got the right mango?
Mom: I just know the difference.
Me: Ok, that's great but how will I know??? (Getting frustrated at this point)
Mom: The young mangoes are separated.
Me: So they have boxes that note that they are GREEN mangoes? But most mangoes are green on the outside! I don't get it!!! I've bought green looking mangoes before that are sweet! Mom!!!!
Mom: They are different! These mangoes never get ripe! They are picked when they are young and never get ripe. The regular ones are picked when they are ripe, so they will continue to get riper and sweeter after you leave them sitting out.
Me: Ok, so the difference is when they are picked?
So now I've learned that these mangoes aren't just green-colored mangoes. They are actually referred to as "Green Mangoes" because they are unripe. They have a slightly sour, tart flavor. If you have never bought one before, this might all be new to you like it was for me. However, if you have experience in Southeast Asian cooking, this may be common knowledge to you and you probably think I sound like an idiot. WHATEVER! This was a learning experience for me. Green mangoes can look like regular mangoes, and sometimes even have a slight exterior reddish coloring that regular mangoes can have. But they are 3-4 times more expensive! Who knew?! I spent $8 on 2 mangoes in order to make the above-pictured Cambodian Green Mango Relish dish.
If you have the same question regarding Green Papaya, it also has a similar story. I know this because I got into this same 15 minute heated conversation with my mother about green papaya. It is different from the ripe orange flesh papaya that is used in smoothies and eaten as a fruit. Green papaya, like green mangoes, are unripe. They are supposedly not more expensive than regular papaya the way that green mangoes are more expensive than regular mangoes. However, I don't have first hand experience with buying a green papaya yet (I cheated and bought my papaya pre-shredded at a Thai grocery store). And my mom's suggestion for finding the right green papaya is to dig your nail into it while shopping for the fruit to see if it is ripe or not since she says they don't separate them at the grocery store. Not sure I will follow her suggestion but ok, thanks, mom. Super helpful.