This spicy, zingy sweet, sour pineapple salsa recipe uses barbecued or grilled pineapple, chilli, lime and mint to create a flavour bomb!
This charred pineapple salsa recipe uses barbecued pineapple – or pineapple seared and blackened on a smoking griddle pan – as a base for a spicy, tart, tangy, fruity salsa. The intense heat caramelises the high sugars in the pineapple beautifully, leaving the fruit smoky and charred, but at the same time richly sweet with caramel. Yes.
I discovered this technique while developing cocktail recipes for my day job at the website Great British Chefs. I made a casual suggestion in an editorial meeting about ‘barbecued cocktails maybe being interesting’ and days later I was having to follow through on it. You can see the results here.
I’ve got quite a bit of writing on the site now – I’ve been in this job since March, typing away furiously into a computer every day. It’s a huge change to go from writing about whatever I fancied, whenever I fancied doing it, to writing full time. In fairness I do get to write about what I want most of the time, it’s more the sheer quantity of output. But it is amazing practice.
Some of it is written under my name, some under the Great British Chefs mantle. But a general rule of thumb is, if it’s really long, then I probably wrote it. I cannot write a short article! Regular readers of this blog probably already knew that.
Anyway, out of those experiments came this salsa. Unless it’s drowned in rum or tequila, pineapple is a bit too sweet for me, so I was looking for something savoury to do with it. That concentrated sweetness needed strident flavours to balance it, so I went for the classic combo of chilli, lime and mint (a herb that is made to go with pineapple) for their heat, tart and herbal zing.
Other fruits you might consider barbecuing for a sweet-savoury salsa are stone fruits like peaches or nectarines. I hoped melon might be a go-er, but it lacks the sturdy fibre to resist the heat of the grill – much too watery.
I recently decided to fully embrace the ideology of fusion food, explained so eloquently here by New Zealand chef, Peter Gordon. I have always been interested in the cuisines of other cultures, growing up as I did in London where pretty much every national cuisine is represented. I love prowling such shops for new ingredients, the magpie that I am.
But I still felt the need to be nationally ‘authentic’, to make sure ‘Indian’ spices went with ‘Indian’ dishes. Peter Gordon’s treatise reminded me of what I already believed, that the cultures of the world are gloriously mixed, as have they ever been, and to try now in 2015 to pretend that they are separate, distinct and somehow nationally pure – I use that word deliberately – is… troubling.
There are quite a few Somali people living near where I grew up in London, and I’ve just started to explore their national foods. Somali dishes show influences from Italy, Persia, Turkey, Ethiopia, India and Yemen. What a combination! How would you articulate British cuisine? French, Italian, Lebanese, Indian, Thai, Somali, Spanish, North American, Mexican, Peruvian, Irish, Swedish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Danish, Afghani. Those are just the countries that I definitely know have restaurants near my home. The list goes on and on and on and on.
So this is my round about way of saying this salsa would be great with many different meals. With the earthy spice of an ‘Indian’ biryani. With the bright vegetables of a ‘Mexican’ tortilla. With the salty cheese of a ‘Greek’ salad. It’s delish.
- 1 pineapple
- 1 hot red chilli I used bird's eye, finely chopped
- juice of 1 lime
- big handful mint leaves roughly chopped
- big pinch sea salt
- few twists of black pepper
- Cut the ends off the pineapple and cut away all the outer skin. Slice widthways into 1cm slices.
- Barbecue over medium heat, brushing the fruit with a little oil before you lay them on the grill.
- Alternatively, you can heat a cast iron griddle pan over low heat until very hot (about 10 minutes), brushing them with oil as for the barbecued version, to help stop the sugary fruit sticking. Cook for a couple of minutes until clear char marks are made (about 2 minutes), then flip the fruit and sear the other side.
- Chop the pineapple slices into 1cm dice and mix with the other seasonings. Boom!