I've only attempted this once, and it was a complete disaster. Can anyone provide some tips for a beginner?
I haven't tried this before but I found this youtube video that shows you how. Cut into the mango, starting where the stem was and going around the long way, just in to the pit. Reach in with a spoon and scoop around the pit, separating one half of the mango from the pit. Then scoop the pit out of the other side.
Hold the mango upright - so the place where the stem was is at the top.
Turn the mango so the widest side is facing you.
The pit mimics this same shape - it's tall, wide, and not very deep.
Cut all the way around as though you are creating two halves, one whole piece facing you, and one facing opposite. Go ahead and peel this side (using a vegetable peeler).
Slide your sharp paring knife between the peeled flesh and the pit. As you separate a section off the pit, slice it away from the rest of the flesh. If you don't use a sufficiently sharp knife, you just end up with a mess.
Peel the other side and slice it the same way.
The reason I peel only half at a time is so I have something (the remaining peel) to grip as I slice the mango.
The pit is flat and thin and surrounded with a lot of fiber and most of the meat. The best solution is to cut the mango into 3 "slices" (||), starting at the stem end, and cutting as close to the pit as possible. Use a sharp knife. The middle slice will have the pit and a small amount of meat and skin around the edge. You can peel the skin and chew the meat at the edge of the pit, but there isn't a whole lot.
In most countries where mangos are native, slicing a mango is anathema - they're eaten at the point at which they're 'like a woman' (use your imagination) i.e. fragrant, perfumed, melting, soft and very juicy.
If you must slice, generally you can get 2-4 'slices' as @Crispy suggest and then, with a bib on, or best of all, in the bath, you slurp away at the hairy delight that is the stone of a properly ripe mango.
There are devices that can make this rather arduous task easier.
I haven't used on personally but they have been reccomended by friends.
Typically you just cut the flesh around the pit. If the mango ripeness is right (soft but not mushy) you'll get nice chunks of mango and minimum mess.
I've used Alton Brown's technique for preparing mango with success before.
It involves cutting a disk off the top and bottom so you have a flat way to set the mango down and then slicing along the pit to cut off the two big "cheeks" and then the two narrower "fingers". You can either peel the mango before or after. He also shows an easy way to cube the mango.
Separate the meaty part or cheeks of the mango by slicing slightly above where the tree stem and the fruit used to connect. After separating the cheeks", get a water glass and use it to slide half a "cheek" of the mango into the glass and separate from the skin. You do that without peeling the mango.