JOURNAL: Manic Mango

I had the lowest scores out of four competitors at the Iron Chef (sorry about the trademark infringement) Battle Mango in Glen Park last week.

Things to remember for next time:
(1) Read the rules on the evite before you start cooking or at least before you go to the competition/dinner.
(2) Don't be like that girl who started cooking after everyone else arrived and their food was getting cold. Even if she did win.
(3) The judges care about presentation (seemingly far more than taste), so make it pretty.
(4) They will not care if you make 4 dishes instead of the assigned 2.
(5) They will not consider the world's most kick-ass frozen ginger mango-rita to be a "dish" no matter how much they love it. Fools.
(6) Just make buffalo wings in lettuce cups. They will be content.

What I learned:

(1) My frozen ginger mango-rita is a crowd-pleaser, but would be even better with more ginger (maybe roasted rather than raw), should be made in obscenely large batches, and the leftovers make a good granita when forgotten in the freezer. Cayenne and sugar on the rim was a great last-minute addition, but better to wet the rim with a lime wedge than in a bowl of mango juice, because the rim ends up slithering its way down to the stem in a matter of minutes.

(2) My classic crab rangoon is fantastic, replacing the crab with mango and keeping the other spicy and savory ingredients is also good, and calling it "mangoon" is funny, but adding the mango while retaining the crab and having a fruity dipping sauce (duck sauce or sweet chili sauce) would have been sublime.

(3) Serving mangoon to the judges while still hot and crispy would have been good as well.

(4) It is really hard to find Asian staples in my new neighborhood, and when I can, they are absurdly overpriced ($8 for a packet of agar agar flakes, which cost $1.39 at Asian markets in the Sunset District or Chinatown for a bag at least 8 times the size).

(5) Organic corn syrup serves no purpose and has no place in this world. The things that call for corn syrup are not for the organic grocery buyer, and the stuff is so thick, chewy and odd that it doesn't function in a recipe the way conventional corn syrup does. It literally took 45 minutes with the bottle tilted at a 45-degree angle to pour a half-cup, and the mouth of the bottle was too narrow to fit even a butter knife inside in order to promote flow.

(6) Don't try to make mango gumdrops from scratch. It's silly and you have no idea what you are doing. Make mango pâté de fruit and then everyone will have a happier experience and be more impressed by the fancy name.

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