It was when I was working on a Middle-Eastern mango-based hot sauce called amba (which involved using unripe mangoes), that the idea of mango kimchi hit me. Unlike soft ripe mangoes, young mango is firm. This led me to believe it would withstand much of the softening effects of fermentation to resemble the nice firmness of regular kkakdugi (which most commonly uses Korean radish). Also, it is sweet but tart, so getting more sour in a fermentation process had a certain lip puckering appeal to it.
The end result was as one would hope: sweet, sour, spicy (especially with the hot manzano peppers I added), slightly softer than when first peeled, but with a firmness that felt much more like cubes than mush. I consider this experiment a total success and will be making it again for sure.
I loved it all by its lonesome, but there are so many uses I could think of for this. Roasting it with proteins, in soups, blended into a hot sauce, etc. Let me know what you do with it!
The quantities I used ended up making a little over a quart (about a cup excess). While I was tempted to modify the recipe to come out at a quart, I don’t like to provide recipes I haven’t tested, so here is my original recipe. If you want to use one less mango, and reduce everything else around 20%, that should do it. Otherwise, I enjoyed having the extra cup. It allowed me to eat a little each day as the main batch fermented.
- 5 large unripe mangoes (was over 4.5 pounds before peeling and coring, and just about 2 lbs. when cubed)
- 4 green onions, cut into 1/4” slices
- 1.5 TBS (30 g) non-iodized salt
- Minced garlic (20 g or ~4 cloves)
- Minced ginger (10 g or 1 tsp)
- 1 TBS anchovy fish sauce (the umami as a complement to the sweet is recommended but you may use vegan sources such as organic soy sauce or liquid aminos)
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup coarse gochugaru (1/2 cup makes a thicker paste, however, during the fermenting process it continues to liquify and won’t be as thick. If you prefer a thinner or more fluid paste though, use less)
- Minced hot pepper (or dry flakes) to taste (I used half an orange manzano pepper, about a TBS minced, which is very spicy and has flavor notes similar to mango and citrus)
- 2 tsp roasted sesame seeds (I added after the ferment but either is fine)
1.) Core the mango. Suggested: use a mango pitter, resulting in two mango halves with skin on.
2.) Cut 3/4” slices vertically and horizontally onto the mango, being careful not to pierce the skin. This will enable you to pull or cut the cubes right off the skin, as shown in the pictures:
3.) Massage all the salt onto the mango and let sit for 1-2 hours.
4.) In the same bowl as the mango and any brine that has formed, gently combine all the remaining ingredients by hand while wearing latex gloves (especially given the use of any hot peppers)
5.) Fill the quart jar with the mango kkakdugi. Unless you reduced the quantities provided, you will have some extra, which you can enjoy right away, or ferment separately in a smaller container. You may consider blending it into a hot sauce (recommend unfermented).
Fermentation length: After various trials, the optimal point at which to place in the refrigerator was 5-6 days. Some suggest a shorter ferment for mango, around 3 days, before refrigerating. There is no one right answer, as factors like ambient temperature, sugar level of the mango, and personal preferences will have an impact. I would caution against a long ferment of kimchi mango, especially if you’re opening it to sample it, as the sugars coupled with oxygen exposure can definitely lead to alcohol production which will reduce the overall appeal of this ferment.