I thought it was all in my head when it felt 10x hotter these last few years in Manila. Well, science has proven me sane. These scorching summers are making everyone tire easily. Thank goodness for ICE! Ice that lets me make all sorts of delicious fruit smoothies. 🙂
Another really good trade-off for this intense heat is the ripe and juicy Philippine mango. It pains me to see that all the Class A ones ship straight to other countries, but I can’t complain about the sweetness of the mangoes that remain in Philippine soil. Just last Sunday, I was able to get 2 kg of tasty-looking medium-sized mangoes for PHP 80. Metro Supermarket in Market! Market! had a buy-1-take-1 promotion. Oh the things you can do with ripe mangoes!
Aside from eating them as they are, one of the best things that can be done to mangoes is to make Mango Sago. This Chinese restaurant dessert is a menu staple all year round. A big punch bowl costs a ton of cash in some high-end restaurants, but the main ingredients are always rather simple: Mangoes, ice, sugar or (ideally) simple syrup, and small sago balls. The dessert can be dressed up with canned mango puree, cream, coconut milk, and/or evaporated milk.
For my own kitchen experiment, I made a batch inspired by the Cantonese version, called Mango Pomelo Sago. I tried this once at a famous fusion cuisine resto and was amazed at how well the dessert came together. The sweet mango puree, the creamy evaporated milk, and the zesty explosion of pomelo pulp made it all the more refreshing after a heavy lunch. Purists might roll their eyes at the pomelo, but I think the citrus flavor cuts into the rich milk in just the right way. And it’s not as if you get a bowl of citrus curd.
Keeping my ingredients to a minimum, I ended up using 4 mangoes (8 cheeks), a tray of ice, some sugar, half a can of evaporated milk, a whole lot of sago, and a smattering of some shredded pomelo. I personally cooked the sago earlier that afternoon, since I had a small bag of Sunshine (brand) Sago lying around the house. All those chewy bubbles for just 120g (half a small bag) of raw sago, by the way. It only takes 15 minutes of boiling, plus 3-4 hours of leaving it to settle.
The result was satisfying if a little too thick. Next time, I’ll be sure to include a can of mango puree (e.g. Gina or Philippine’s Best) to the mix. It helps thin out an overly thick puree without sacrificing the mango flavor. Also, I’d make simple syrup or sugar water instead of using regular sugar. It just melts into the puree easier. My only problem is that I still have lots of sago left over. I only used 1/3 of what I made, so I guess I’ll have to whip up some Chinese-style Sago’t Gulaman (a jelly and sago beverage flavored with almond essence) tomorrow.