Using fresh fruits in Filipino cooking is not exactly an alien idea. We use bayabas (guava) and sampalok (tamarind), among other fruits, to flavor our sinigang broth. We find sagging na saba in our version of Arroz A La Cubana and some versions of Pochero. One of Marikina’s famous dishes, Pininyahang Manok (Pineapple Chicken) is cooked with chunks of fresh pineapple. We mix green mangoes with onions and tomatoes to make a native salad. We even cook langka (jackfruit) like a vegetable and mix it with coconut milk to make guinataang Lanka.
It is often the case that one doesn’t consider as special things that one grew up with. Cooking with fresh fruits is something that I have always taken for granted. I never really thought about fruits in cooked dishes until I had dinner at a restaurant in the aboriginal village in the Sun Moon Lake area in central Taiwan. The specialty was fruited dishes but quite unlike the way we use fruits in Philippine cooking. I can still remember spicy pork with pineapples and black mushrooms with fresh mangoes in a romantically lit garden. That was more than three years ago.
When summer comes, so do the sweet ripe mangoes. They’re cheap, they are abundant and they are at their best. They are delicious by themselves, they are a wonderful accompaniment to the native suman and they are also wonderful for cooking. Try this simple chicken dish using pureed mangoes, fresh orange juice, yogurt, and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary. It’s delightfully sweet and tangy and just perfect for a family meal on a warm summer day.
Heat a non-stick frying pan. Arrange the chicken in a single layer, skin side down, and cook the chicken until the skin renders fat and turns light brown. Flip to brown the other side. Transfer the chicken pieces to a plate and pour off the fat from the frying pan. Leave any brown bits that may be stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Pour in the yogurt and top with the sprigs of rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Stir lightly and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the sauce is thick and chunky and the chicken is cooked through. Taste the sauce, add more salt or pepper, or both, if necessary, and simmer for a minute longer to allow the additional seasonings to blend in.