When we went on vacation to Hawaii last month my goal was to eat as much pineapple as possible, and I worked hard to achieve that goal. I had pineapple cocktails (including one served in a hollowed out pineapple) and tried pineapple snacks everywhere we went. There was pineapple for breakfast, and for snacks, and sometimes I ordered menu items just because there was some pineapple on the side. At the farmer’s market we got a white pineapple and at the regular market we got a few yellow pineapple and I did my fair share of damage to all of them. I even convinced Jeff to buy two pineapples to bring home – it didn’t take much convincing.
On one night of our vacation, we stopped at a local chain, Puka Dog, for dinner because I’d heard they had pineapple relish on their hot dogs. If you haven’t had a Hawaiian hot dog before, it’s a fun little feat of engineering. The dogs were delivered inside the bun – no, not sitting on top of a split bun but tucked into a hollowed out hole – and that cored out space had been toasted before the hot dog and its toppings were tucked in. The construction was honestly the most exciting part, since the dogs were somewhat underwhelming – too much bread, not enough pineapple. But the pineapple relish was tasty – sweet and a bit spicy. And it gave me the idea for a Hawaiian-themed hot dog to serve at our birthday party, one with more pineapple and some spicy mustard to go with it.
This is somewhere between a salsa and a relish, fresh and spicy but without the characteristic flavor of cilantro that appears in just about every salsa recipe. The omission was originally a mistake – I forgot to pick up cilantro at the store – but the result was so good I decided to keep it. Without the cilantro, the pineapple sweetness and onion sharpness stand out more clearly. This isn’t the first fruit salsa I’ve become obsessed with, there’s the one at the tacqueria down the street and the summer I spent making a cantelope version. And this one seems like it will be the theme of this summer. Sweet and spicy, and just as good on a hot dog as it is on a chip.
- 2 cups pineapple diced (as fine or chunky as you wish)
- 1 jalapeno pepper finely diced, seeds and ribs removed if you want it less spicy
- ¼ of a medium red onion finely diced about ¼ cup
- Juice of ½ a lime
- Salt and pepper
COMBINE the diced pineapple, pepper, and onion in a large bowl and season with lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. Let the salsa sit for at least 20 minutes before serving, to allow the flavors to meld.
Pineapple is particularly juicy so this salsa gives off a lot of liquid as it sits. You can always strain off some liquid before serving it, or just leave it as is.
Always taste your jalapeno before determining how much to add (and how many seeds to throw in). Slice off the end and try it to see how spicy it is, because no two jalapenos are the same.