Fresh mangosteens are a rare sight even at Southeast Asian groceries in Chicago. Imports of irradiated fresh mangosteens from Thailand have only recently been approved by the USDA, but they’re still far from common. Aside from being seasonal (try your luck around springtime), they seem to fly off the shelves as soon as they’re available.
When a case of pre-bagged fresh mangosteens was unloaded in front of me, a few people dropped what they were doing and headed straight for it. In the time it took to realize that there was a pile of fresh mangosteens right under my nose, a few bags were taken. I thought they were plums. I quickly grab a bag as more of an instinctive reaction but almost threw it back when I noticed the words “plant quarantine” on the label. It’s not the most inviting thing to find on anything I plan to ingest.
None of the mangosteens sported the distinctive green caps. I wonder if irradiation causes the caps to flake off.
The best way to enjoy this fruit is to eat it straight from the husk but I couldn’t help but think that there must be something I could do with it. A quick search for “mangosteen recipe” pointed to a Thai recipe for mangosteen clafoutis. Looking at this list, I had a gut feeling that guys aren’t supposed to make clafoutis so I keep looking. Whatever I’m making will likely be Thai, so I looked up recipes in David Thompson’s Thai Food, a.k.a. the tome of weird transliterations and impossible-to-find-ingredients (even more so now that Thai Grocery is gone).
So it came down to Beef and Mangosteen Soup and Mangosteen and Mussel Curry. I wanted to make something that wouldn’t overwhelm the mangosteen flavor so I decide to go with the soup.
The truth is, I found the curry recipe discouraging. Where am I supposed to find 4 pla salit or 5 pla grop or 1/2 hot-smoked trout? I’ll make the curry the next time I come across fresh mangosteens (probably never).
Thai Beef and Mangosteen Soup
dtom neua kho gap mangkut
3 oz beef sirloin (about the size of a deck of cards)
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons fish sauce (a.k.a. patis, nam pla, nước mắm)
4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
pinch of sugar
3 mangosteens, peeled and segmented
pinch of pepper
1 tablespoon cilantro/coriander leaves
For the beef marinade paste:
2 teaspoons cilantro/coriander stems
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- The beef marinade paste calls for 1 teaspoon of coriander root and it is nowhere to be found. I have yet to make anything from Thai Food exactly as specified.
Pound the beef marinade paste ingredients until smooth. Slice the beef into small cubes. Apply the paste and marinate for an hour.
Heat a wok over high heat. Add the oil and stir-fry the beef briefly until lightly browned. It shouldn’t take longer than 30 seconds.
Add the fish sauce and immediately take off the heat. Apologize to non-Asian neighbors if residing in an apartment complex.
Bring chicken stock to a boil then add the soy sauce and sugar. Take off the heat and let the stock cool briefly before adding the beef and mangosteens. At anything over a bare simmer, the beef will toughen and the mangosteens may disintegrate.
Sprinkle with pepper and cilantro to serve.