Pineapple Mango Pepper Salsa

I have many permutations of this salsa – it was very popular at my sushi bar. I’ve used it on grilled swordfish and shrimp, in tacos, served it with chips, and used it on chicken and pork chops. It’s particularly good on boneless, skinless chicken breasts that have been coated with breadcrumbs, macadamia nuts, and coconut. I have made it with sautéed peppers or used roasted jalapenos. In one interation, I used habanero chilis for a smoking hot version. Mango and papaya go well together with the pineapple, so feel free to use papaya instead, using the same amount and technique as for the mango. It also is very good with diced avocado mixed in and eaten with chips.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral flavored oil
1/4 large red onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons brown or white sugar
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 8-ounce can of pineapple chunks in juice or light syrup, chopped*
1/2 inch cube of peeled ginger, finely minced
1 small pinch of cinnamon, preferably Mexican
1/2 red bell pepper-cut into ¼ to ½ inch squares
1/2 yellow bell pepper-cut into ¼ to ½ inch squares
1 medium jalapeno pepper, de-seeded and de-ribbed, finely diced
1/2 firm but ripe mango, peeled and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch dice
2 tablespoons cilantro or mint, (or a combination of both)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

METHOD:

In a thick-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and cook to soften, avoiding browning.

Add the sugar to the pan and stir. Add the vinegar to the pan and stir to mix well. Add the pineapple and the liquid it came with to the pot, and bring to a boil.

Cook to reduce the liquid to an almost syrupy consistency.

Add the ginger and cinnamon and cook to soften the ginger.

Taste for balance and adjust as needed. It should be a balance of tart and sweet. Use vinegar or sugar to balance.

Add the chilis and bells and mix well.

Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl to cool. When cool, carefully fold in the mango and chill. Add pepper to your liking.

Carefully fold in the leaves of some cilantro, or some finely shredded mint, or a combination of both.

*The reason I use canned pineapple instead of fresh is that fresh, uncooked pineapple contains an enzyme that will break down proteins. These enzymes, along with those found in papaya, are those used most in commercial powdered “meat tenderizers.” Bromelain and papain are the names of the active ingredients in the powders. The other reason I go with canned? It’s easier.

YIELD: 2 cups

SOURCE: Chef Andrew Cohen

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