Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pineapple and cucumber in spicy light syrup

The idea of eating fruits with chili, which is my nature by the way, never fails to bring out the puzzled looks on my Japanese friends` faces whenever I mention it. It was sort of Fruits with chili?? Really?? faces. And that was when I realized how I basically grew up  and live up chewing chili with almost any kind of food. Chocolate with chili? Tried it last year. What an interesting taste!
Anyway, the fruit drink I made here is basically a lighter and partly drinkable (or slurpable) version of Indonesian fruit salad called rujak, which is a mix of cut fruits like mango, cucumber, and pineapple dressed with sweet and spicy sauce made of dark brown, chili, and tamarind. I do love rujak the way it is, but  at the moment I need to keep the thought of eating the fruits with the thick sugar paste  (aka. more sugar less water) away. After all, slurping the cold  spicy syrup (aka. more water less sugar) with occasional fruits chewing is what I am craving for these super hot days.

I only used pineapple and cucumber here, but you`re certainly welcome to experiment with your favorite fruits. Maybe next time I`ll go with apple.
So, start with pineapple. My first time dealing with fresh pineapple was just a year ago (I know!). Having to peel off its skin was my only reason for not buying pineapple. But when I found pineapples sold with a  serving guidance tagged on them, my pineaple-less days were over.

So, if you too are intimidated by the skin like I was, I hope this guidance can be handy for you. It`s in Japanese, but I`m sure you can figure it out from the pictures.

Peel off the skin and cut up the pineapple. Oh, I love this last part of the cutting process.

Next is cucumbers. After the pineapple, they come very easy to handle with. Slice them up in any shapes you like.

Mix the cut pineapple and cucumbers in a container.

Now for those of you who are new with eating fruits with chili, here comes the challenge.
Throw in sliced chili. It depends on how much you can handle the heat, but you can  certainly use much less chili than I did. I turn crazy when it comes to chili and you don`t have to be like me.
And by the way, I used dried chili because that`s what I got here. Go with fresh chili (deseed or not, depending on your heat tolerance) whenever you can because the fresh skin are soft enough to eat. The skin of the dried ones are actually a little too hard and papery to chew, so I sometimes boil them together with the syrup. And since I said sometimes, this time I just threw them in with the fruits and let the syrup soften them a bit after several hours soaking.

Because I skipped the boiling work, I used hot water to dissolve dark brown sugar in a cup.

Add this chili powder, vinegar, and a pinch of salt. If you have tamarind in hands, use the juice instead of vinegar.

Just make the syrup thick, pour it in batches to the fruits while thinning it out with water, and adjust the taste until  the fruits are completely soaked up in the container. For me, I like it to be lightly sweet but with intense heat and sourness. For a rough measurement, I added 1 tbs sliced chili, 3 tbs brown sugar, 6 tbs of vinegar, and a pinch of salt to a total volume of 750 ml fruits and water, which was my container capacity.

Add peanuts too. You can sprinkle the peanuts later when serving for a greater crunch factor, or before soaking to make them mushy. Whichever it is, please add the peanuts. Trust me.
Close the container tightly and keep it in refrigerator for several hours before serving. The longer you soak the fruits, the more they gain the taste. Ah, heaven.

Ready for the challenge?

Dark brown sugar or palm sugar
Chili powder
Vinegar or tamarind juice


  1. ahhh... i made some sorts of rujak yesterday by modifying a recipe of mango salsa (and today my tummy is acting up LOL). summer is rujak time isn't it? :)

  2. yeeess, mochiron! rujak to cool off the heat! tummy should be prepared for that, though :DD