Pineapple is unlike any other fruit. It grows with an armored shell that makes us feel like the last thing we want to do is wrap our hands around in. And yet its sweet flavor entraps us, and we do the impossible by cutting through its three protective layers, first the sharp leaves that grow around it, followed by another skin or hard rind that gives no hint at what lies beneath. And inside the third layer we find, and enjoy, what so much work has led us to. It is fresh, sweet and juicy pulp, and you can never eat as much of it fresh as you would like. It burns or scalds the tongue, thanks to an enzyme known as bromelain, preventing one from eating much of it. Over time, of course, we’ve learned how to eliminate this discomfort by cooking it, preserving it in syrup, or by drinking the juice.
This South American plant is interesting not only botanically, but also in culinary and nutritional aspects. That’s why I’m going to share with you a few recipes that I hope you like. Fresh pineapple is rich in vitamin C. Just a 100 gram serving of fresh fruit provides close to 79% of you daily requirements. It is rich in manganese, providing up to 49% of your daily needs, which is a mineral that helps control blood sugar levels and the development of skin collagen. It’s best to eat this fruit in moderation, because due to its high Vitamin C content, consuming too much of it could have negative effects. The bromelain contained therein could also degrade proteins, and when used as a meat softener, it could make you sick to your stomach if consumed in excess. The difference between poison and medicine often times lies in the dosage, but enjoying this, and other fruits, when fresh, could be a great life pleasure. I’m going to give you a few recipes that I hope you can enjoy as an alternate to direct consumption.
Pineapple Beverage with Coconut Water and Strawberries
- 1 c. pineapple
- ½ c. strawberries
- 1 ½ c. coconut water
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 3 Tbsp. diced walnuts
- Blend the pineapple with the coconut water until creating a uniform mixture.
- Add the strawberries and honey, blend until all ingredients are mixed.
- Serve over ice and add the diced walnuts to the drink, mixing the ingredients.
- As a decoration, you could add a piece of pineapple or strawberries to your glass.
- You could also use other fruits rather than strawberries, like kiwi or apples. Blending it with ice will also make the beverage more refreshing.
Chicken Soup with Pineapple, Vietnamese Style
- 800 grams diced pineapple
- ½ kilo chicken breast, de-boned
- Vegetable oil
- 2 serrano peppers, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ c. fish sauce
- 200 grams sliced mushrooms or shitake mushrooms
- 2 red peppers, diced
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 1 ½ Tbsp. chicken broth powder
- 1/3 c. basil, diced
- 1/3 c. mint, diced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Blend 400 grams of pineapple with 2 cups of water until creating a soft mixture, like a puree. Once finished, drain the pineapple into a bowl and add water until reaching around one and half liters of pineapple juice.
- Flatten and cut the chicken breasts into strips, across and against the grain of the meat. Cut into 1 cm thick slices, then set aside.
- Using a soup pot, add two tablespoons of oil and heat. When ready, add the minced garlic and the peppers, with seeds and everything (if you’re very sensitive to it you can throw the seeds out, or use less of them). Sauté both ingredients for 1 minute, or until they become fragrant. Stir constantly.
- Add the fish sauce to the pan and simmer until reduced to half the volume. Pour the pineapple juice over the ingredients, add the diced pepper, pineapple, mushrooms and tomatoes, along with the powdered chicken broth, then salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat, cooking for 10 minutes. Stir the soup occasionally.
- In a frying pan, add two tablespoons of oil and heat. When ready, add the remaining minced garlic and sauté until golden. Salt and pepper the chicken, and place the strips into the frying pan. Cook until completely cooked.
- Add the chicken to the broth along with the basil and mint. Cook for another 5 minutes, then serve warm.
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