Chef Allen Susser owns a restaurant in Florida and uses mangoes liberally in his menus. He describes how Floridians treasure the first mangos from the trees in their yards. As the season progresses and the mangoes keep coming, they gift friends and neighbors and finally are overwhelmed by their trees’ fruitfulness. At that point he has a tempting offer: free dinner for any family that comes to his restaurant with a wheelbarrow full of mangoes.
I could only wish for such a bounty. If I had one, I’d turn to his The Great Mango Book: A Guide with Recipes, full of recipes using green or ripe mangos for any course of your meal. The ‘guide’ part of the book is a full section of photos, history, taste profiles, and availability for 150 kinds of mangoes. Most of these are not available in the US, though if you are going to look for specialty mangoes in the US, Florida looks to be your state.
Here in Washington where I borrowed Chef Allen’s book to extend my champagne mango cooking streak, I tried his Mango Macadamia Saffron Rice. I couldn’t quite make myself fry the macadamia nuts in butter, but I did fry them in macadamia nut oil the first time I made it. Besides that switch, I followed his recipe the first time except for using long-grain brown rice instead of white. The result was beautiful, flavorful, but for me, a little too rich. The rice you get when dining out usually does have added butter or oil, one of the secrets to delicious- and fattening- restaurant meals.
After the book went back to the library I made the rice a few more times with no recipe at hand and settled on this much simplified and lighter dish. I made saffron the star, omitting other spices like cloves that were in the original recipe. I use a rice cooker, and its slow cook cycle gives the saffron time to soak and release its flavor.
If I’m going to indulge in saffron I’d better well notice it in the final dish, and you will here, appreciating both its flavor and its bright yellow color combined with the yellow-orange of the mangoes. I hope you might share the luck I’ve had with saffron. I’ve received it as a gift from traveling friends and I’ve found a couple of really good deals on it. So I’ve rarely counted out the stamens for a recipe thread by thread. A generous pinch is OK with me. And that’s what I use in this dish.
- 1¼ cups uncooked long-grain brown rice
- 1 generous pinch saffron
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ cup plain, unsalted macadamia nuts, quartered
- 2 ripe champagne mangos, peeled and diced (about 1 cup of diced mango)
- Cook rice. Put rice, saffron, salt, and the appropriate amount of water in the rice cooker and cook on the brown rice setting. Or cook on the stovetop using the same ingredients.
- Adjust salt as necessary.
- Combine with quartered macadamia nuts and diced mangoes.