Mangu. Say it again. Mangu. A melodious morsel of a multi-syllable which, when uttered amongst an appropriately cultured audience, elicits perverse paroxysms of delight unseemly in their sincerity. If you haven’t sampled a sizeable swath of this simple staple’s iterations, you’re simply not living in Miami. Bearing an origin shockingly similar to our own species, the boiled green plantain mash synonymous with an estimable meal to our Dominican citizens traces its origins to the African continent. Similar but not exactly like its cousins fufu, mofongo and cayeye, the Dominicanized influence on what has the potential to be a singularly stodgy side has propelled it into a class of its own. Whether plain, smothered in sautéed red onions, covered in creamy queso or capped with a slab of salami, there’s isn’t a version of this delightful dish that won’t satisfy even the pickiest of potential dining companions. In a metropolis of a thousand cultures, opinions and attitudes, what better to satisfy the lot than a basic base accepting of any and all additives? Although seemingly simple to prepare, like risotto or a consummately cooked ceviche, a surprising sum of artistry is needed to properly produce this plantain-based specialty. If you want to test your culinary prowess at home, make sure to boil until the plantains are tender, but still slightly firm. Such al dente assembly draws the line between a hearty and refreshing meal and a pasty, unpalatable disaster. The rest is up to you.
Interested in trying the mellifluous mash we’ve showcased without all the dirty dishes? You’ll be eating your praises at authentic Calle Ocho eatery Milly’s Restaurant and their fantastic smorgasboard of Dominican delights. Bearers of a Zen-like minimalism, the Mangu Café Restaurant in Hialeah more than makes up for its bare-bones interior with a perfectly prepared plantain paste. And for A+ mangu with a side of Miami-style nightlife, try Club Tipico Dominicano, a zesty dance club/eatery almost leaking local atmosphere in the heart of Allapattah.