Mango and Mangosteen. This could be an SNL skit, or it could be the name of the next biggest children’s daytime television duo. But for now, it’s reserved for Jessie Chien’s tropical-inspired granita.
By Jessie Chien
Living in Southern China, summer came as blizzards were still blowing through the Eastern seaboard and hurricanes wreaked havoc in the South. The sole saving grace of living in a miserably hot and humid climate is the availability of tropical fruits that litter the fruit stands starting as early as March.
What looks like cute Hello Kitty purses that pile over the fruit stands near my home are actually a fruit called the mangosteen. Found throughout Eastern and Southern Asia, the mangosteen is akin to the lychee in its flavor and physical characteristics. To be more precise, once the chestnut-like outer peel is surprisingly easily peeled away, a powder white flesh is revealed. Clumped in tangerine-like segments around a small bulbous pit, the flesh has the texture and taste of both a sweet red grape and a lychee, with a teeny bit of tang to prevent the sweetness from knocking you out. With an obviously tropical flavor profile that can’t be found in the States, I’ve become addicted to the refreshing, sweet and supple characteristics of the mangosteen.
It just happens to be mangosteen season at the moment, and at $2 a dozen, it wasn’t hard to come home with a bagful. While they are perfect on their own, I happened to have recently studied the granita section while flipping through David Lebovitz’s must-have summer cookbook: The Perfect Scoop. Inspired by the recipes, the heat, as well as my bag of mangosteens and the few mangoes sitting next to it on my kitchen counter, a granita recipe emerged to highlight the abundance of mangosteens both at the market and on my mind.
- 1 cup (240 mL) Mangosteen segments and its juices, about 12 Mangosteens.
- 2 cups (475 mL) mangoes, peeled pitted and sliced, about 4 small yellow mangoes
- 1 cup (240 mL) water
- ¼ cup (60 mL) sugar
- Juice of ½ lime
- Combine the mangoes and mangosteen and blend with an immersion blender or regular blender. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve.
- Mix water, sugar, and the juice of the ½ lime into the fruit puree. Stir well, and pour into a flat, rectangular plastic container.
- Cover and freeze for one hour.
- After one hour, take the puree out of the freezer. With a fork, mix by raking the puree from the outside in. Cover and put in the freezer again, this time for 30 minutes.
- After half an hour, repeat the raking process. Continue this method, freezing for 30 minutes then stirring, for about another hour or two or until fine crystal flakes (like a sno-cone) form.
- If not served immediately, store in the freezer, and before serving let it thaw out, then mix with a fork to create the same granular crystals.
Jessie Chien Bryson grew up spending sunny California Thanksgivings eating 20lb. free-range turkeys along with sides of Chow Mein, which is what she thinks cemented her insatiable interest of food cultures and sustainable methods as an adult. She recently spent two years in Guangzhou, China, where the locals were said to eat anything with four legs but a table and anything that flies but a plane. She's now on the other side of the world in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where she keeps a diary of food, travel, and expat adventures at www.jessbopeep.com