Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Pakistani Honey Mangoes

What I really love about summer is the availability of some of the best varieties of mangoes you would ever taste anywhere in the world. From April to August, we can buy imported mangoes air-freighted from the Indian sub-continent, which taste better than what we get from a regular supermarket, which are transported via surface, all year round.

The season starts with the availability of Alphonso mangoes from India, from late spring, then to the Sindhri mangoes from Pakistan in early summer, to the best ones available now, and pictured, in mid-summer, the Chaunsa mangoes. I am not aure I spelt them correctly, but I am sure I have seen them available in Malaysia as well.

Over here in UK, they are not available in mainstream supermarkets. I am not sure why, but probably because they do not have long shelf lives and do not have a uniform unblemished appearance, which the major retailers seem to demand these days, at the expense of taste. However, in the large cities, they are widely available at all Asian stores (indian and chinese), and there is always adequate supply to meet the demand from the communities.

The prices have gone up significantly this year (what hasnt?!), to around £3 - £3.50 per 2kg box. In previous years, as recent as 2006, I have bought them for as little as £2 per box. Still, its only available for a short time annually and I have one daily when they are in season and is a truly prolonged culinary highlight for me, every summer!

Here is a pic of a 2kg box

And here is a Chaunsa mango, cut... not the best looking, but most delicious! Not a hint of sourness... just sweet through ad through!

And for the other mangoes that we get all year round, which I have also seen in Malaysia, here is a short review. They are plucked unripe, so that they can survive the long ship journey to the UK. These are not my photos

Tommy Atkins:
Probably the best looking mangoes money can buy, but that's where the loveliness ends! Taste is bland, texture is dry and full of fibres that sticks to your teeth. If you're lucky, you will get one that is more sweet than sour, but still it lacks a "taste" and has almost no smell. I never buy these!

The flesh is smooth and juicy and when ripe, has a dark yellow colour. Not fibrous at all. Probably the best supermarket mangoes you can buy in the UK. Usually sweet when and hardly ever sour. Looks are deceiving because the skin is pure green when unripe, but leave it a week or two and it changes to a blushy orange red.

Like a cross between Tommy Atkins and Keitt. Less dark in colour and less sweet, but still ok to eat when nothing else is available. Slightly fibrous, but not too bad.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Garden Fresh Pak Choy

Still on the subject of oriental food here, but with a slight variation. During the summer months when the weather is milder, it is possible to grow pak choy in a greenhouse in the UK. Sometimes, you can grow it outdoors too, but then you expose it to all sorts of wildlife that might destroy it.

Anyway, it grows fast and we have more than enough to have it twice a week over the summer and early autumn months from this small patch in the greenhouse. Furthermore, we can grow them into the shape we prefer too.. I think the leaves are tastier, so the veg is grown close together to crowd out the branch, making it rather thin and allow the leaves to bloom.

Considering that it costs around £4.00 per kg to buy, it is quite a saving, especially these days!

Here is the greenhouse:

And here is the veg:

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Prawn Kuey Teow ( Ho Fun)

I am really treading on old ground here. I have previously blogged on homemade Chow Kuey Teow here:

This was made exactly the same way, but with just lovely juicy tiger prawns. It's not that I have run out of stuff to blog about, but that I dont have the time at the moment to do a lengthy blog, and yet still want to keep this blog active.

So feast your eyes on this dish. I am not sure if its because of the price of rice at the moment or something else, but the ho fun I have been buying have been very brittle recently. The price has not gone up by much while price of rice has doubled. Maybe they add less rice flour and more water in the ho fun these days. The result is that the finished dish is rather broken up. However, taste is still the same, fortunately!