Pineapple Carpaccio, Mauritian Style!
So we’re taking a deviation from seasonal and local this week, and making things all tropical with this pineapple carpaccio dish. Why? Because it’s been 2 months since I got back from my epic Mauritian holiday and I need to rekindle the totally tropical memories since spring has gone AWOL recently. Also, I’ve lots of photos of Mauritian pineapple photos that I need to share! The second reason is because I’m cooking a Mauritian inspired yoga supper club (it’s sold out, yay!) next month, and after testing the recipe I decided it was too beautiful and colourful not to share already.
I’ve always said that whilst we’d love to eat seasonal and local all the time, it does us good to include foods from other latitudes and cuisines from time to time, and of course I’m not sure where we’d be without bananas and avocados. It does however pay to try and source goods that have been sea and not air freighted. Some veg schemes and farmers markets do better at this than other.
But can we grow pineapples in the UK? I thought absolutely not, till I discovered a short while ago, that pineapples have been cultivated in the UK. In hot houses (called pineries) and with a lot of care, and a very low yield. There was a really interested segment on BBC1’s ‘who do you think you are’ with newsreader Sophie Raworth where she discovered one of her ancestors had owned a pinery. Sadly I can’t find any info on line to research this any further.
Anyway, back to my Mauritian pineapples! Most days on the beach we fell pray to a pineapple street food snack. The pineapples were cut with such expertise, so you could hold them like a lolly, then dipped in a bag of chilli, salt and tamarind. Sweet, with a good savoury chilli kick, this definitely was not a dessert, and hot enough to make my head spin (chilli tends to do that), and my eyes water.
So, I decided to recreate this into a carpaccio style dish and serve it as part of a platter of starers at our next supper club event. The rest of the menu will be full of Mauritian flavours using seasonal British produce. A perfect balance.
I couldn’t find a definite recipe from Mauritius so I ad libbed with the 3 ingredients I knew were in there till I got this. Tamarind can come in a block which you need to rehydrate and strain through a sieve, or alternatively you can buy a paste where a touch of vinegar and water is already added. I used the ready made paste as I thought it would be easier to control the flavour that way, and I’m guessing that you might like to take the easier route too?
Next job is to learn how to cut the pineapple like the Mauritian pros, but in the meantime, a light marinade on my thin slices will do just nicely thanks.
- 1 large pineapple
- 1 medium sized red chilli
- 1 tsp flaked sea salt + extra for garnish.
- 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
- 1 tablespoon water
- A handful of fresh mint leaves, chiffonade (stack and roll the mint leaves, then shred)
- freshly ground black pepper
- Prepare the pineapple, by topping and tailing, and removing all of the peel. Get rid of as many of the black 'eye' hard bits as possible. Slice thinly either using a sharp knife or a mandolin on the ⅛ setting.
- Mince ¾ of the chilli, reserving the rest in slices for a garnish. Then pound in a pestle and mortar with the salt until a paste forms.
- Mix the salted chilli paste with the tamarind paste and an extra tablespoon of water.
- Toss all the pineapple slices in the marinade making sure all is well coated. Lay on a serving platter and garnish with the reaming chilli, the mint and also a good grind of black pepper and a little extra salt.
Love the idea of a pineapple carpaccio? Kellie at Food to Glow made this Pineapple and Melon version last year, looks delicious. 4