This grilled pineapple curd is truly one of my favorite things! Grilling caramelizes the sugars in the pineapple to create a deeper, less cloying flavor. It’s versatile and can be used in a wide array of dishes. It really looks and tastes like island sunshine in a jar: the perfect pick-me-up in the middle of a brutal winter!
To explain my deep affection for pineapple, I have to take you back to Krabi, Thailand in February 2004. Like the rest of the world, I was shocked by the news coming out of Indonesia, Thailand, and nearby coastal regions. A massive tsunami had struck in the Indian Ocean the day after Christmas. The stories that the survivors told were terrifying, and I wanted to help.
I dug deeper and learned more, and stumbled upon a website that listed the condition of every affected beach in Thailand, from north to south. Most were decimated. But one stretch reportedly had little damage and hotels that were still open. There was discussion in the news about the economic impact the tsunami would have on the region. The coastal regions are highly dependent on tourism, and that revenue contributes about 20% of the country’s GDP. After all of the loss of life and property damage, the subsequent lack of tourists would be insult to injury. I happened to have a couple of weeks of vacation in February, and decided that if they were ready for tourists, I was happy to go be one!
There are conversations in the travel industry about “disaster tourism”, and I believe there are right and wrong ways to go about doing it. Showing up, giving people jobs, and contributing to the local economy is a needed and often appreciated thing. But timing is critical, and intent is everything. Arriving before a destination is capable of handling visitors isn’t only rude, it’s potentially dangerous. Contribute where you can without getting in the way, and be respectful and mindful of the fact that the locals have just been through a traumatic experience.
Once I had settled on a hotel on Ao Nang Beach, I called and asked if they and the town were ready for guests. The answer was a resounding yes, and it became one of the most gratifying and rewarding travel experiences of my life. Thai people are notoriously nice and kind, but it seemed that there was another layer to it during this trip. The camaraderie was different, sweeter, with both the locals and our (few) fellow travelers. Many were eager to tell their stories and share the photos of the immediate aftermath, and they often thanked us for being there.
The only goals of my trip were to eat a lot of delicious food and get a Thai massage every day that I was in the country. The massage hut right on the beach made that delightfully easy to achieve! After every one, I’d buy the most succulent, perfectly ripe pineapple wedge on its own stick from carts on the beach. I marveled at the way the sellers deftly cut the pineapple – I’d never seen it done like that before. It was perfection! My recollection may be influenced by the post-massage haze, but I don’t think I’ve ever had better pineapple in my life. Those sweet people expertly slicing that sweetest pineapple on the beach are among my most vivid and favorite memories of that journey.
I think of Krabi and Ao Nang beach every time I bite into one now. Most of us live far away from pineapple growing territory though, and finding a perfectly ripe specimen can be a bit of a challenge. How do you pick a good one? Look for a pineapple that is:
Making the curd is very simple! Begin by chopping up a small to medium pineapple. Pro tip: don’t cut out the core! Pineapple is the only natural source of the powerhouse anti-inflammatory enzyme bromelain, and the highest concentration is in the core. It’s usually a bit tough to eat whole but it purees beautifully, especially after being softened on the grill!
Grill it up, and try not to eat half of your pieces. Remove them from the grill to a high powered blender and puree. Don’t be shy, puree the heck out of that baby! You’ll want as smooth a consistency as possible for the curd.
Strain out any excess juice (don’t throw it out!), and place in a small sauce pan with all of the ingredients except the butter. Whisk the mixture constantly over medium heat until thickened, typically just as it begins to bubble a bit. When it coats the back of a wooden spoon without running, it’s perfect. Add more cornstarch, a tablespoon at a time, if it’s still too liquid once it’s reached a very low simmer.
Remove from the heat, gently whisk in the butter, and your jar of sunshine is finished! Use it as a spread on toast, biscuits, and scones! Add it to yogurt and granola for a tropical parfait! Use it as a dip on a fruit platter! Make my amazing Coconut Grilled Pineapple Ripple! Get it a little sauced with our Coconut Macadamia Nut Rum Cake! Wow that special someone (or indulge and keep it all to yourself!) with my decadent Grilled Pineapple Creme Brûlée! Create something completely new (and share with the rest of the class, please!). Or dig in with a spoon. It’s just that good.
สวัสดีค่ะ * Sawatdee Ka!