Gracing tables at picnics, potlucks, or barbeques, this sunny summer salsa is always a hit. This non-recipe is effortless to make too. Save slaving away in the kitchen for Thanksgiving. After all, it’s summer summer summer time.
Combine diced pineapple, mangoes, red onion, cilantro, and some lime juice and zest in a bowl. For crunch, I sometimes toss in a handful of finely diced jicama. Adventurous cooks can add a dash of fish sauce for an additional umami oomph. Season with salt and chili pepper (such as cayenne or paprika) and your pineapple mango salsa is ready for chip dipping or to accompany any grilled meat or fish.
But but but… can I use pineapple in a can? The answer is a firm NO. No, you may not. You must carve your own. If you’re on a serious time crunch, you could pick up one of those pre-carved pineapples. I’m reluctant to buy them because of:
- the unnecessary packaging
- waste. Without a proper pineapple cutter, workers often lop off thick slabs of flesh to eliminate as many “pins” as possible.
- freshness and quality. I must smell the pineapple’s ripeness through the skin and see its original colour. It is also hard to track how long it’s been carved for unless it has a time stamp.
Don’t be intimidated. Choosing and carving a pineapple is easier than it looks. A ripened pineapple should have a yellow patch near the bottom. It should be brownish-green near the middle and greener towards the top, including the leaves. If the entire fruit is brown, it’s over-ripened and may feel mushy and have a musky taste.
Smell it. The fragrance should be sweet and floral. Poke it. The “pins” should have a bit of give. If it passes the test, take the baby home.
How to carve a fresh pineapple
- Slice off the top and bottom of the pineapple so it stands sturdily on the cutting board.
- Following the shape of the pineapple, slice the skin off from top to bottom without cutting too deeply.
- Observe the arrangement of the “pins” – the dots should connect in a diagonal pattern.
- Make a shallow cut on either side of the “pins” in a “V” shape to remove them, following the diagonal pattern to connect them. You should create spiral ridges around the pineapple.
- When all “pins” are removed, quarter the pineapple lengthwise and remove the fibrous core
- Your pineapple is ready for dicing. If you want to save even more flesh, retrieve the strips with the pins on them. Cut off and discard the pins and save the pineapple flesh in between.
Bonus: how to dice a mango quickly
- Remove the two fleshy segments by slicing the mango lengthwise along either side of the pit.
- Score the segments into small squares. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh from the skin.
- Remove the skin from the pit segment. Pare the flesh off from the pit and dice.