When I travel, I tend to find myself in one of two places rather quickly: The farmers market or deep in the aisles of the local grocery store (I’m nosey like that). On my latest trip to Maui, I fell in love with something new – something that I had never had before that absolutely blew my flavor mind – pickled mango! Oh, and I also discovered that the best poke spot is located in a liquor store…truths, but that is a story for another time.
What started out as a curious choice at the local shave ice joint turned into a week long obsession. The young gal working the counter was impressed by my pickled mango selection and told me it was her favorite and usually no one ever orders it. I sunk my plastic spoon into the fluffy ice topped with syrup and there in that second absolute L.O.V.E sitting in a tree!
Pickled mango is sweet and savory, a little hit of vinegar and an unrecognizable spice blend that I could only trace back to liquorish…or Chinese five spice. I started buying dried and fresh pickled mango at convenience stores…an road side market stands…trying to decipher it’s ingredients. Stumped, I headed back to the shave ice joint to ask more questions.
Luckily my 17 year old gourmet guidance counselor was working again and as I ordered another mound of delightful powder covered in this magical syrup, she ran into the back and returned with candies she had gotten at the movies – Li Hing dusted pineapple. There was the mystery – Li Hing is making this magic come all together!
Needless to say, my next stop was at the grocery store to pick up my necessary ingredients: Li Hing powder (salted plum powder with cane sugar, Hawaiian salt, licorice, Chinese 5 spice, and carmine) with and Sweet Li Hing Mui (dried salted plums – or also known by the locals as “crack seed”) and my own hot pink pickling experiments commenced as soon as we touched back down in Los Angeles…
Since I’ve made pickled mango snacks, I even bought a shave ice machine and made my own syrup…but maybe the most fun creation yet was turning this complex treat into popsicle form. Not just because it’s popsicle week….because EVERYONE loves a good summer pop!
Are you ready to go on island time!?
Li Hing Pickled Mango Popsicles
2 or more large green (unripened mangoes)
1 cup rice vinegar
2 cups water
2½ cups light brown sugar
2 tsp. Hawaiian salt
2 tbsp. Li Hing powder
1 small package Sweet Li Hing Mui (approx 5 oz)
1 – 2 cups Mango juice
Toasted coconut flakes for popsicles
PICKLED MANGO DIRECTIONS
Bring water, light brown sugar and salt to a boil in a pan and reduce to medium low, simmering and stirring until everything dissolves. Remove from heat adding rice vinegar and Li Hing Powder, stir well.
Pour hot mixture over your peeled/sliced mangos and sweet Li Hing Mui (dried plums), let sit on the counter until it reaches room temperature. Seal container and store in the refrigerator for 3 days, allowing the mango to absorb flavors.
Remove dried plumbs, drain liquid and blitz pickled mangos in a food processor until smooth. Loosen mixture up with a 1 – 2 cups fresh mango juice. Fill popsicle molds and allow to freeze over night. Dip popsicles in toasted coconut flakes and a sprinkle of Li Hing powder before serving!
Frozen form is as good as pickled mango gets – especially when trying to beat the heat. Tart, tropical…one show-off color! This might be a reoccurring block buster (I mean block party) summer role. Just don’t forget to sprinkle with some toasted coconut and another sprinkling of Li Hing powder for an authentic nod to the shave ice where the love affair all started.
Aloha friends – can’t wait to see all your pretty popsicles!