No better way to hone in on those succulent summer fruits then creating a pineapple salad that is to die for. Complement it with sweet red papaya, toasted coconut and juicy heirloom tomatoes. What are you waiting for?
Why I Love Charred Pineapple Salad with Papaya
Growing up in Malaysia, tropical fruits such as pineapple and papaya was a mainstay in our home.
In fact, we had a papaya tree in our back yard, which was unfortunately attacked continuously by the birds so getting a good papaya to eat wasn’t always so easy.
We Southeast Asians love to eat fruits with all sorts of accompaniments.
Papaya is best eaten with a squeeze of lime juice. Trust me when I tell you that it transforms the papaya and if at all possible, becomes even sweeter.
Pineapple was always eaten with shaved dried sour plums, salt or rojak sauce.
Rojak sauce is very Malaysian, and its base is made of fermented shrimp paste. I can already hear you say “Ewwww”! Phenie wasn’t a fan either until I made her my mother’s recipe. She was converted after that!
Combining the 2 fruits with the crunch of the toasted coconut seemed like the logical combination for a good salad. Layered on top of some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes tones down the sweetness while also adding some texture.
Drizzle that stunning spicy palm sugar dressing over the pineapple salad for the perfect finish.
When Is Pineapple in Season?
No doubt you would have seen pineapple available all year round, but summer is essentially the best time to buy pineapples, such as Tozzi pines, when they are in season.
I do find them so much sweeter, cheaper and a greater variety is available to us in the warmer months. I guess that’s why we always associate pineapples with beach, tropical sun and cocktails!
When Does Pineapple Turn Brown?
After you’ve cut pineapple, they will start to turn brown because the process of oxidation commences. This occurs when the enzymes start breaking down the fruit. It is the same when you’re cutting apples or pears.
Placing the cut pineapple in the fridge may slow down the process as the cold temperature slows down the enzymes, but it will eventually turn brown anyway.
The browning of the fruit is not an indication of further ripening. The browning is the start of the decomposition process and therefore, should be eaten quickly.
This doesn’t mean you can’t eat it when it starts to turn brown though, but you can’t leave it for a few days and hope for the best.
When Is Pineapple Ready to Eat?
If you’re purchasing a pineapple from your supermarket or your local farmer’s market, they are ready to eat.
Pineapples stop ripening the minute they are cut from its plant. So, if you’re buying a pineapple and you’re leaving it for further ripening, you’re only going to get a fruit that has gone off.
A ripe pineapple is one that has a firm shell, but when squeezed gently, it gives a little and you can feel it is slightly soft. That is when it is the perfect time to cut them from the plant for consumption.
What Is Papaya?
Papaya is a tropical fruit that belongs to the Caricaceae family.
It has a slightly thick skin of orange and green shades and has a slight pear shape. It is elongated and can grow up to 20 inches.
The flesh of a ripe papaya is orange, and it has a whole bunch of black seeds on the inside.
The flesh softens as it ripens and can turn to mush if left for too long. When eaten at the right time, the flesh is smooth and soft and melts in your mouth.
What Does Papaya Taste Like?
Papaya has a really unique taste. It is sweet and very occasionally has a tinge of bitterness. I guess you could say it is a cross between a mango and cantaloupe, but even then, it wouldn’t do it justice.
Difference Between Papaya and Paw Paw
When I first came to Australia, I was delighted to be able to find papaya readily available. As the lack of tropical Southeast Asian fruit is one of the many factors contributing to my homesickness, finding papaya certainly lessened the pang for home.
My first bite into the papaya was greeted with great disappointment when I realised I hadn’t purchased a papaya at all. I had bought a paw paw. Back in the day, many people would tell me it’s the same as a papaya, but in Australia, it was interchangeably called a papaya.
I told them back then it was not the same fruit at all. In the first instance, the shape is different. But back then I didn’t know any better and just thought in Australia the shape was not the same.
The flesh is yellow while the papaya is orange. While the texture of the 2 fruits are similar, the tastes are very different. Paw paws are milder and are perhaps more like a banana in flavour.
After all these years in Australia, I am still not a fan of the paw paw. Maybe because my first experience was so “traumatic”! LOL!
If you’d like to try another papaya salad, we have a Red Papaya Salad with Chilli Charred Corn too.
How to Make Charred Pineapple Salad with Papaya
How to Make Char Pineapple
Using a serrated bread knife, cut the top off the pineapple and remove the skin. The serrated knife is the fastest and easiest way to cut through the hard, uneven skin.
Using a standard knife, remove the eyes.
Then slice into large wheels about 1.5 cm 1 2 cm thick.
Baste each side of the pineapple wheels with avocado oil.
Baste the grill pan with any remaining oil.
In medium to high heat, grill each side for 3 minutes each. Don’t move or turn the pineapple until one side is done. This way, the grill marks will be more distinct and even.
If you love grilled pineapple as much as we do, you should also try our pineapple dessert fruit salad: Brown Sugar Grilled Pineapple Salad with Lemon Curd.
How to Make the Rest of the Salad
Slice the tomatoes lengthways.
In a small fry pan, dry toast the shredded coconut for about 1 minute or until golden brown.
Remove the leaves of the curry leaves (pictured left below) and Vietnamese mint (picture right below) from the stalk and slice them thinly.
Remove the skin and seeds from the papaya and cut into chunks.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the papaya, coconut, Vietnamese mint and curry leaves. Gently fold until well combined.
How to Make Spicy Palm Sugar Dressing
In a small saucepan, add the palm sugar with water and bring to the boil. After it has completely dissolved, on medium heat, boil for another 3 minutes.
Then add the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and chilli flakes. Boil for another 30 seconds.
Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
How To Assemble The Salad
On a large flat platter, place the tomatoes on the perimeter.
Add the large wheels of charred pineapple on top of the tomatoes. The centre is to remain empty.
Place the papaya mixture in the middle of the platter and some on top of the tomatoes.
Drizzle the spicy palm sugar dressing all over the pineapple salad.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
I am thankful that I live in a country where I can get some delicious pineapple. The tropical climates do mean I get to eat Australian pineapples in abundance. This wonderful concoction of sweet and savoury makes for an interesting flavour combination. Perfect for the balmy summer months!
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Charred Pineapple Salad with Papaya
Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.
- Using a serrated bread knife, cut the top off the pineapple and remove the skin. Using a standard knife, remove the eyes. Then slice into large wheels about 1.5 cm 1 2 cm thick.
- Baste each side of the pineapple wheels with avocado oil. Baste the grill pan with any remaining oil. In medium to high heat, grill each side for 3 minutes each.
- Remove the skin and seeds from the papaya and cut into chunks.
- Slice the tomatoes crossways.
- In a small fry pan, dry toast the shredded coconut for about 1 minute or until golden brown.
- Remove the leaves of the Vietnamese mint and curry leaves from the stalk and slice them thinly.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the papaya, coconut, Vietnamese mint and curry leaves. Gently fold until well combined.
- In a small saucepan, add the palm sugar with water and bring to the boil. After it has completely dissolved, on medium heat, boil for another 3 minutes.
- Then add the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and chilli flakes. Boil for another 30 seconds.
- Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- On a large flat platter, place the tomatoes on the perimeter.
- Add the large wheels of charred pineapple on top of the tomatoes. The centre is to remain empty.
- Place the papaya mixture in the middle of the platter and some on top of the tomatoes.
- Drizzle the spicy palm sugar dressing all over the pineapple salad.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- When selecting your pineapple, ensure that it is ripe and on the yellow side. If you’re able to purchase a whole peeled pineapple, you would be able to see if it’s ripe. It will also reduce your prep time.
- You can put the pineapples on the BBQ if you have that going. In fact, it will give it a better char and those smoky BBQ flavours. You can also bake it if you prefer. 15 minutes on each side on a parchment lined sheet pan.
- You can use fresh, dried or frozen coconut for this recipe.
- If you can’t get your hands on some palm sugar from your Asian grocer, use brown sugar instead. The flavours won’t be the same, but it would be the closest alternative.
- For a gluten free version of the dressing, replace soy sauce with tamari.
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