Say Hello to Mango Risotto from a Cuban.
Arroz con Mango
Growing up in Cuba, there was a constant phrase that was uttered when two things didn’t really fit together:
eso es un arroz con mango”
Which just means “Just as Mango and Rice don’t go together, neither does ….”
A little context please
As a chef, and psychologist, that phrase made me question why it had a place in our national vernacular. Did someone from the past try this concoction and decide it was no good? Or did a really exaggerated cuban…basically all of us, combine the wildest combination imaginable to stress his point?
And why shouldn’t Rice and Mango go together? In Vietnam its a dessert, Marcus Samuelson has a version from Scandinavian cuisine, so why is that combination foreign to Cubans?
Development and uses
To bridge the gap between the idea and a finished product, I started from the basics, making a traditional risotto: Rice, wine, stock, and cream, and topping it with Mango Puree before finishing it with Parmesan.
As is generally the case with fruit based risottos, it was too sweet and subtle, you couldn’t really taste the mango flavor. When
guinea pigs friends tried it, they could not identify the flavors.
Trial 2: Less mango puree, more mango chunks.
Making the risotto again, I substituted the vegetable stock for chicken stock, thinking that a meatier background flavor would offset the sweetness and simultaneously make the mango stand out a little more. I also added diced fresh mango.
That worked! The mango was identifiable, with visual cues as well as flavor, and since fresh mango was added at the end, the natural aromas and flavor we identify with the fruit were coming through. It was also better balanced, not as sweet.
Testing this recipe several times more, and experimenting with different variables has yielded some interesting results. Adding vanilla oil and Sumac to the risotto made it too floral. Crazy interesting aromatics, but maybe too sweet smelling to be served as a main dish in a meal.
The final addition to the recipe came as we were shooting the photos, on a whim, I added chili oil to the risotto- just a bit for color. This was a Chinese chili oil that had been sitting in my pantry for months. But the impact that it gave was dramatic!
Instantly smoky, with a spicy kick that was soothed by the creaminess of the rice. It was amazing!
This Risotto is works especially well for Summer since mangoes are in peak season, its slightly sweet and floral with subtle mango flavors. You can serve it with duck, fish, pork, generally proteins that work with sweet ingredients.
It makes for an excellent Vegetarian dish if you substitute chicken stock for vegetable broth.
As a Cuban, I think I arrived at my own answer about Arroz Con Mango: They can definitely go together.
And the result is worth celebrating.
1 small onion diced
1/2 mango pureed
1/2 mango minced
1 cup Arborio
4 Cups Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock
1/2 cup White Wine
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1/4 cup Rice wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Mascarpone cheese
1 tbsp fresh grated Parmesan Cheese
In a skillet with medium- high heat, saute onion in olive oil until translucent.
Add the rice and stir, toasting the rice until a nutty aroma rises.
Add the white wine and stir into the rice, let the wine evaporate. In a separate pot, heat up the stock and add it to the rice 1/4 cup at a time, stirring every time. Allow the stock to be absorbed and bubble, almost evaporated before adding more.
Once stock is finished, add Rice wine vinegar and mango puree, stir and let it absorb.
Add mango pieces, and stir in mascarpone to allow for a creamy consistency. Top with parmesan
Carnaroli, or Valencia Rice can also be used instead of arborio.
Add a drizzle of Chili Oil for an instant kick of flavor
Keywords: Summer, fruit,
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