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I know, I know, everyone’s sick of hearing about the dehydrator, but it’s our blog and we’ll dry if we want to.
This latest experiment in flavouring dried pineapple turned out beautifully and I think will even make a great ingredient for other dishes.
I love visiting Chinatowns in whatever city. They’re always busy, bustling neighbourhoods full of great shopping and eating experiences. I’ve always been particularly taken with the spectacular array of dried items available in most Chinese markets. I guess part of the appeal is the lack of a similar variety of dried goods in my own culture. Growing up, we didn’t even have jerky in our house. The only dried snacks that I remember us having with any frequency were raisins, dates and prunes.
The first time I tried slices of salty-sweet, chili flecked dried mango, small chewy sour plums, and strips of spicy cuttlefish from a Chinese market, I felt transported. Drying leads to more intense flavours and can transform a few simple ingredients. These cheap little treats were so salty, so endorphin-rush hot, they challenged my whole concept of a “snack.”
This dried pineapple recipe is my homage to those Chinese snacks—scorching heat and all.
1 whole fresh pineapple
2 tablespoons coconut sugar*
2 teaspoons ground chipotle chili**
1 teaspoon grey sea salt
Step one: I topped and tailed the pineapple and then cut it across the middle. Once it’s in two pieces, the pineapple is a lot easier to manage.
I then peeled and cored the pineapple and sliced it into rings of no more than half an inch.
Step two: I blended together the dry ingredients and sifted them on to both sides of the pineapple using a small wire-mesh strainer—this allows for a nice even coverage and takes out some of the lumps in the sugar.
Step three: I laid the slices onto racks so that they weren’t touching and set the dehydrator to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. I checked the texture after about 8 hours, but they took around 14 hours in all.
The finished pineapple slices are chewy but not tough, with a very sweet center. They are very spicy, but you could certainly cut back on the chili to taste. However, the coconut sugar and salt does balance the spiciness somewhat.
Michelle made yogurt this past weekend, so I’m thinking of chopping up some of this pineapple and adding it to a cup or two of yogurt with a pinch of salt and some finely chopped mint—basically a raita. I’ll update this post with a comment on whether or not this worked.
*I picked up some coconut sugar recently at a health food store and I love the stuff. It’s less sweet than regular sugar and has a nice warm, nutty character and aroma. Also, pineapple and coconut is just a natural, right?
**I used chipotle chili in this preparation because I thought the smokiness might add a nice complexity and I was happy with the results. A more authentically Asian recipe could be cayenne powder, but I would dial that back a bit in terms of quantity.