On the counter sits a Costco box of mangoes. I’m a slut for mangoes, and my husband knows that, so he surprised me with them last week when he did the Costco deed. I was thrilled, but I knew the greener ones in the box would all ripen at the same time. And, since my family isn’t into more adventurous culinary forays like Adzuki Bean Mango Stir Fry with Cilantro Lime Coconut Sauce or even Mango Salsa, on the Fourth I decided to use the mango for what the gods intended—alcoholic beverages. Okay, not all the gods. But I think one in particular would appreciate this recipe.
Mangoes play prominently in Hindu legend. Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity, for example, is often depicted holding a mango. A magic mango, as legend tells, which he won in a competition against his brother, Kartikeya. The parents, Shiva and Parvati, frustrated with the brothers’ squabbling over the mango promised the fruit to the sibling that could go around the world three times and return the quickest. After realizing that a mouse was simply not quality transportation to travel the world three times, and certainly no match for the peacock his brother was zipping around on, Ganesha relied instead on both political and semantic acumen. “Ganesha said that Shiva and Parvati were his parents and were his whole world. He had asked Shiva and Parvati to stand together and had circled them three times and had taken the mango.” Although the lesson here is supposed to be something along the order of wisdom can come from travel or staying home and truly understanding one’s own kin is precious, I’m thinking brother Kartikeya could have used a mango mojito after pulling up his peacock to this type of sycophancy.
But back to mojito mojo. Here’s my novice’s recipe. Realize that I can never leave a recipe alone. I always have to do something to make it my own. I started with a couple recipes on line and worked from those.
1. First, have a good playlist on. Here’s a few of the songs from the list I was listening to at the time of working on this recipe:
Knee Deep (Zac Brown Band with Jimmy Buffet)
Island Woman (Pablo Cruise)
Beach in Hawaii (Ziggy Marley)
Don’t Rock my Boat (Bob Marley)
You Ku’upio (Willie K)
If I had a Boat (Lyle Lovett)
Does Your Mama Like to Reggae (J. J. Cale)
My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii (The Mills Brothers)
Cowboy Boots and Bathing Suits (Jerry Jeff Walker)
Southern Cross (Crosby, Stills, and Nash)
There are more…typically my playlists have about forty or more songs. But you get the idea.
2. Next, it helps to have mint growing in the back yard. I do. A lot of mint growing in a big pot on the patio. Go cut the some of the mint stalks with nice green leaves all the way up. I prepared three mojitos yesterday, so I needed three stalks of mint. When I came in to wash the mint, I noticed some tiny (and I mean tiny) black gnats of some variety. I had to drown their asses, roll the mint in paper towels, and drown their asses again. A black gnat in your mojito just doesn’t say “this is living” to me.
Chop up the mint, but not so finely that it looks like green slime. Nice larger pieces is pretty in the glass.
3. Cut some lime wedges. Take a lime wedge for each glass, split the sucker, slide it around the top of the glass. Set it aside. It’s going to be in that glass soon.
4. Dip the glass rim into a plate with turbinado sugar. I found it didn’t stick perfectly, but just enough to have a bit of sweet here and there on the lips.
5. In each glass, put the equivalent of about five good size mint leaves (chopped somewhat). These need to be crushed in the glass. Of course, a drink mortar (is that what they’re called?) is nice for this. A spoon works too. I used the end of a wooden spatula. One must be inventive when short on supplies.
6. Take the lime wedge and squeeze into each glass. Then drop that sucker in there. Maybe take another half lime and squeeze liberally into the three glasses. I did. I like lime.
7. Mango puree or mango nectar. Some recipes call for mango puree; others call for mango nectar, the kind you get in a can. This all depends on your taste and your access to fresh mangoes. Obviously, given my ripened mangoes, I went for the puree. A blender works great for this. (Plus, if you have some left, put it over vanilla ice cream later.) Drop several tablespoons of the puree into the bottom of the glass. Again, it all depends upon how much mango you want in the drink. Remember, there’s vitamin C in mangoes, so you can’t go wrong here. This is about your health after all!
8.*****Add simple syrup—probably two tablespoons or so to the growing concoction in each glass. (Making simple syrup is a step you’ll want to do ahead of time. Again, that’s why it’s good to have a longer playlist. Simple syrup can be made by mixing 1 cup of sugar and ½ cup of water in a saucepan. Bring it to a low boil, and stir it constantly for no more than five minutes. Cool this.) Some recipes say just add sugar. I’m thinking these people are lazy amateurs and don’t deserve mojitos. Seriously. Make the damn syrup.
9. Fill glass with maybe a half cup of club soda, and fill the glass with ice. Top with a jigger or so of Myers dark rum. Lightly stir. (If you stir too much, you’ll de-fiz the soda. Not good.) You may want to add a bit more soda now. Another idea is to add just a touch of the mango nectar in a can. Now you’re talking best of both worlds! Go for it. YOLO and all that shit.
10. To top off your masterpiece, de-leaf the sprigs of mint leaving some nice leaves at the top—one sprig for each. Take a mango and do a hedgehog slice job on it. What’s a hedgehog slice job you ask? Well, I learned this from a friend who owned a bed and breakfast in Captain Cook. Anybody who’s been around mangoes for a while knows how to do this, but for a mango virgin, here’s how to cut one:
11. Slice on the wide edge, around the pit. If the mango is truly ripe, you’ll be able to twist the mango in half. Taking the side without the pit, make slices the length and cross wise to the skin only. Then flip the mango inside out. Here’s a quick little video to show you just what I mean: Cutting a Mango Hedgehog
12. Skewer pieces of mango onto the de-leafed mint spring, place in the glass and serve smugly. Then sit back and listen to a play list of your liking that takes you to an island in your mind. And make a toast to Lord Ganesha who understood that flattery can prevent you from having to saddle up a mouse and ride it around the earth three times. Good for him.
For some versions of the Mango story: