Market Matters- Grilled Pineapple Satay is here to Stay!

I have been experimenting with grilling fruit. I have tried, to varying degrees of success, several types. Figs are good. Stone fruits take to the flame very well. I particularly like peaches.

But just for the record strawberries and cherries are poor choices on the grill. Grapes have not been my best effort either, but I have not given up on that idea just yet.

In fact, I am convinced that slow roasted grapes are indeed an excellent idea. I am imaging a deeply smoky, wine flavored grape. I’d like to keep its skin intact so that when you bite into it, just like a nice slow-roasted cherry tomato, you’d get a jammy explosion of deeply intense grape flavors. Almost like a syrah. I just need to master the technique.

So for this weeks Market Matters at the Hollywood Farmers Market. That’s where my brain has been. Grilling something unexpected.

grilled pineapple satayYams crossed my mind, as did the aforementioned grapes. Neither seemed to be very well represented at the market this week however.

That’s when I saw a small bin of pineapple. I am not sure I have ever seen pineapple at the Hollywood Farmers Market. I am fairly sure it’s a tropical fruit. Southern California certainly has a favorable climate. But tropical, we are not.

I assumed that these specimens must have been shipped in from Mexico, Ecuador… or someplace like that. Not exactly local, and not exactly in keeping with the spirit of the Farmers Market.

So I asked,  “Where were these grown?”

“Northern San Diego County” was the answer. I admit I was dubious, but I picked up a small pineapple anyway, and put it in my bag (yes, I paid for it).

So I get home and I get on the typing TV.

Lo and behold. Pineapples are indeed grown on a limited basis in coastal California. In fact Dole has a pineapple farm in Monterey. Monterey is not a balmy locale!

But it seems growing pineapples in CA is a way of stretching out the growing season. Hawaiian pineapples peak in June. But the warmest months here are in very late summer and early fall. Which means my pineapple (pretty as it is) is at its Southern California stellar moment! Good for me. Good for you.

So today I have a Grilled Pineapple Satays with Spiced Coconut Caramel recipe.

I am giving it a tropical flair because, this pineapple (my pineapple),  having been transplanted to California, so far away from it’s tropical roots– well, it may be having an idenity crisis! I have a feeling it may be missing its ancestral heritage. Poor thing. We all need to know where we come from.

grilled pineapple sataySo here it is: Grilled Pineapple Satay with Spiced Coconut Caramel   SERVES 8–10

  • 1/4 c packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 c dark spiced rum (such as captain morgan’s)
  • 1 ripe pineapple
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/4 c packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 c coconut milk
  • 1 whole clove
  • 5 whole cardamom pods
  • 1/4 t whole fennel seeds
  • 1 t whole black peppercorns
  • 1/4 t red-pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 c unsweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted in oven 4 or 5 minutes

Grilled Pineapple Satay with Spiced Coconut Caramel

Soak 16 to 24 bamboo skewers in water for about 15 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Combine the sugar and rum in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at high 1 1/2 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Set this mixture aside as you prep the pineapple.

Start by trimming both end off the pineapple, removing about 1/2 inch off each end. Stand the pineapple on one end and cut vertically down the sides of the fruit, working in sections, all the way around. Inspect the fruit and using the tip of your knife cut out any sections of peel that remain.

Cut the pineapple in quarters lengthwise and cut the core out of each of the 4 pieces. Then cut each of the quarters in half lengthwise. You will have 8 long pieces.

Cut each of these in half or thirds (depending on the size of your pineapple) so that you get 16 (or 24) 3 to 4 inch chunks about 3/4 inch thick.

Skewer these wedges lengthwise, 1 or 2 per bamboo skewer. Laying them on a parchament line baking sheet as you work.

Brush the rum mixture evenly over pineapple wedges. Let the marinate while you prepare the caramel sauce.

Put granulated sugar and brown sugar in a 2‑quart heavy saucepan. Pour in the water and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, over medium heat, letting it sit undisturbed. Once it comes to a boil, continue to cook, swirling the pan occasionally until a golden honey colored syrup is achieved.

Remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour in the coconut milk. The mixture will bubble up and caramel will harden slightly. Be very careful and please use at least a 2 quart pan to avoid any accidents.

Stir in clove, cardamom pods, fennel, peppercorns and red-pepper flakes (if using). Simmer, stirring, until caramel is dissolved and sauce is reduced to about 1 cup. This should take about 10 minutes.

Remove the sauce from the heat and pour it through a sieve into a 2‑cup measure and allow it to cool some before serving.

Prepare the grill for high heat. The flames should have died down, but the grill must remain hot enough that you can hold your hand above the grate about 5 inches for only a few seconds.

Grill the pineapple skewers for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until they are heated through and grill marks appear.

Transfer the skewers to a serving tray. Sprinkle to toasted coconut on top and serve with the spiced caramel sauce on the side for dipping.

Grilled Pineapple Satay with Spiced Coconut Caramel


Greg Henry