Spicy Green Mango

--Living and eating with a dash of whimsy and a sprinkling of spice--

  • I'm a budding food-tographer turned blogger who's insanely passionate about food..real food...the kind that sprouts from the earth and you have to wash it to eat it. Yes, hearty real food. I live to eat and I eat to live and am loving every bit of it! If you're here, then I suppose we share the same passion! Enjoy!

Posted by Spicy Green Mango 12 comments

There are some fruits that even my undiscriminating palate will think twice before diving into and devouring.  For me, this fruit is no question the once-feared, but now happily revered, Dragon Fruit (also known around the world as the pitaya).  I first saw this little magenta-colored bearded fruit lining the street stalls of the local vendors in Honolulu's Chinatown and was immediately scared off by its beasty appearance and name.  Really? Dragon Fruit? My initial thoughts went something like this:

Hmm..what ugly little beasts.  How can anything good possibly come from a fruit named after a dragon?  And how in the heck do you eat them?

I brushed them off and hastened toward my the rows of mangos and papayas calling my name.

Fast forward a few years later and my friend re-introduces me to Dragon Fruit b/c her mom grows a tree of them in her Southern CA backyard. I'm not sure if it's because I can't seem to muster up the courage to refuse any food that's offered to me or b/c I really wanted to give the bearded dragon another chance to win my heart, but either way, I tasted them and guess what? I actually like them. (Now, if only I could convince my hubby and parents to join me--but, they beg to differ and still hold fast to my initial thoughts of the fruit).

For those of you who are unaccustomed to DF and are going to live your culinary adventures vicariously through my blog, then here's what I THINK they taste like.  Imagine biting into the flesh of a kiwi fruit but tasting a jicama.  Peppered with what what resembles tiny black sesame seeds floating in a sea of whiteness and  enveloped by the most beautiful magenta skin, the dragon fruit is not to be dismissed. The skin is inedible, so don't go chomping down on it, but all that white stuff is fair game for your chompers.  It's crisp and refreshing and also reminds me of the consistency of a watermelon b/c as part of the cactus family, the fruit retains a lot of juiciness in order to survive hotter climates.

So, as I was enjoying my time with my newfound friend, my hubby got hungry and whipped up a spicy stir fry dish of morning glory and pork belly (or as my parents would call it: 3-layered pork--meat, fat & skin).  Being the food-tographer that I am, how could I possibly resist a prime opportunity for a photo?  I couldn't.  So, here you go! And I loved how the place mat is the same lovely color as my dragon fruit.  My good friend, Julia (whose birthday we just celebrated), got the mat as a gift for me from Vietnam. I'm so excited it's making its debut on my blog. Enjoy!!

Morning Glory & Pork Belly Stir Fry Recipe

1 lb or 1 strip of pork belly (the butchers usually sell them in strips, so this would be ideal), sliced into 1/2 inch strips
1 handful of morning glory aka water spinach (look for the On(g) Choy sign in your Asian grocery store), washed & cut into 3 inch lengths
2 garlic cloves, crushed & minced

1 tbs of chili oil w/soy protein (for those who love the heat)
1 tbs of canola or extra virgin olive oil
Dash of black pepper
2 tbs oyster sauce (I'm highly partial to the premiuml Lee Kum Kee brand b/c it imparts such a wonderful flavor--although any brand will suffice)
1 tbs fish sauce (I absolute love the Flying Lion Brand "Phu Quoc" fish sauce).

NOTE on the Fish Sauce: I provided the link to Amazon and it's priced at a whopping $7.99. But if you visit your Asian grocer, the price will range from 2.99-3.50, so you can take you pick as to where to acquire it. This fish sauce is by far the best and I tend to use this brand in nearly everything I cook ever since my college days when I found that ALL of my Vietnamese buddies had a stash of this brand in their kitchens. 

How-To: Quick & Easy, but DELISH!
Heat the oil in the pan under a medium flame. As the oil is heating, add the minced garlic and watch carefully.  Before the garlic browns completely, pile in the pork belly and season with the fish & oyster sauce & drizzle in the chili oil.  Add the black pepper and give the pork a quick toss to coat the meat. 

The best stir fried pork belly is one with a crispy skin on the pork, so do not stir the meat anymore.  Allow the pork to cook and brown and watch as the skin becomes nice and crispy. This should take about 3-4 minutes per side. Once the pork is cooked, toss in the morning glory and give it a quick stir fry for about 1-2 minutes and your dish is done! Do not overcook the morning glory or else it will become soggy and lifeless--make sure it's tender to the bite and still green.

The sauciness of this dish will come from the water in the stems of the morning glory b/c this vegetable is grown in a watery environment, which allows it to grow quite long.  My mother says that back in Laos, this dish was possibly the most lowliest food among commoners b/c it's pretty much considered a weed and takes very little to cultivate as it naturally thrives in the Mekong waterways.  Nevertheless, she loved it and we grew up eating this regularly in our home.  Given its humble orgins, morning glory is simply delicious and I love how the simplest ingredients impart the best memories of my childhood surrounded by food and a wonderful mom who nourished my love for all things that go into my belly.


12 Responses

  1. s. says:

    I had some dragon fruit today as well and even posted a picture over on my blog. It was also the first time anyone in my family had it and they were surprised that it was white with seeds.

    I definitely think kiwi is the right consistency, and if the one you have isn't properly ripened, you get a hint of kiwi tartness as well. While in SE Asia, I found that the sweetness varied from country to country.

  2. The dragon fruit is the fruit of a cactus, you can see the image of how they are grown on WIKI, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitaya
    The white ones are a just slightly slimy in texture. The red ones are not at all this way, and a little bit sweeter. I love either of them blended with avocado and yogurt, honey and a little ice.

  3. Divina Pe says:

    I love dragon fruit especially the red variety. But combining them together is great as well. I haven't seen the red ones lately. Being a food-tographer (is that how you spell?), you are really good in what you do. I think we always have this opinion that we don't like our own photos and most of the time, I don't like mine. :) But seriously, your photos are really good.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful pictures! I'll have to find dragon fruit to try as an unusual ingredient on my blog. Have you ever made anything with it or is it a fruit you just eat raw?

  5. Liren says:

    Wow, wow, and wow. First off, the photos. They keep getting better and better! Just beautiful!

    Second, the dragon fruit looks so tantalizing. I think I've only tried it once, so long ago that I honestly do not remember how they tasted. I'll have to hunt them down and give it another try.

    Third, the pork belly, ah, perfection! That's just my kind of meal :)

  6. @Divina: Oh, thank you and it's as if you read my mind b/c everytime I post photos, I wander over to a professional photographer's site and second guess my abilities, but your comment warmed my heart. :)

    @52kitchenadventures: Good question and since I'm still new to the game of experiencing dragon fruit, I have yet to see what else I can concoct with its flesh. When I find out, you know I'll blog about it and let you know.

    @Liren: Oh, Liren. I wish there were more words in the English dictionary to relay how happy I get whenever I read a special comment from you. Thank you and yes, pork belly is yum!

  7. love your pictures! they are so beautiful...

  8. Dragon fruit is great. I didn't realize till I did some research that there are many different varieties. I have a dragon fruit plant that is pink in the inside. Great post!

  9. Lindisms says:

    Durian. I challenge thee, my culinary photography-gifted friend, to make the durian fruit look delicious and irresistible!

  10. retriever says:

    a very lovely fruit and colours, greeting from Belgium

  11. Esef Ong says:

    I love Dragon Fruits too but my preference is the red skin with red flesh - Hylocereus costaricensis, the Costa Rica Pitahaya. This specie tasted sweeter compared to White flesh variety and back home in my country, the red flesh variety is made into desserts, fruit enzymes, vinegar and Red Pithaya wine :D I have a book about cooking Pithaya including the pulpy thick red skin! The Pithaya with White flesh mostly from Vietnam. I haven't try Yellow flesh Pithaya though :-(

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