An Old School Hawaiian Style Stuffed Pineapple!
Tourist trap cuisine is basically fun food that is easy to recognize. In the old days, tourist trap food was simple, yet it was presented with stylish flair. The idea was to create memorable food that added excitement to the vacation experience.
I have worked at many tourist destinations in Florida and western states. Hearty portions of fun food is what sells the best. Tourists spend all day outdoors and they expect to be fed a belly full of food for a fair price. Dining value does vary with location and remote destinations command higher food prices, because of higher delivery costs.
The theme of tourist trap food should reflect upon the cooking style of the geographic location. For example, Florida tourist trap food revolves around Caribbean and Floribbean cuisine themes. Out west, the tourist food revolves around cowboy, native and Mexican cuisine themes.
During the post WWII era, the Pacific Islands became a prime tourist destination. Military personnel certainly played an important role in promoting Hawaiian tourism. All it took was mentioning sunshine, the beach and tropical cocktails to captivate an audience. Playing bongos and doing the limbo at a Hawaiian luau was what most people needed for relaxation back in those days.
During the post war era, Hawaiian chefs quickly realized that providing comfort to American tourists was the key to success. The local tourist trap food had to fit within the bounds of mainlander taste preferences and the food could not be too exotic for folks to handle. Most important of all, Hawaiian tourist trap food had to be presented with tropical flare. Why serve a salad plain on a plate, when it could be served in a large seashell or a fancy carved fruit bowl!
When designing tourist trap food it is important to remember that most guests are not concerned about healthy food choices. Like most restaurant patrons, tourists only want to indulge in food that they cannot get at home. When hungry travelers sit down at a tropical tourist trap restaurant, they expect good service, a big fancy cocktail and a heaping plate of food. The trick of the trade is to give tourists what they want for a fair price. If a stuffed pineapple requires one pound of shrimp to make it look right, then so be it. Adjust the menu price to cover the oversize portion of shrimp and the tourists will gladly pay.
Today's Cilantro Mango Shrimp Salad Stuffed Pineapple may be old school Hawaiian style tourist trap food, but it has timeless appeal. A salad like this still draws raves, because this is the style of food that vacationing guests expect to see!
While doing a cooking project with culinary school students a few years ago, I offered this stuffed pineapple recipe as a suggestion to a student that was stumped for cooking ideas. The student made the Cilantro Mango Shrimp Stuffed Pineapple and it drew nice comments from the staff of culinary arts instructors that acted as judges. One of the teachers actually turned to me and said, "Only you would be old school enough to think of something good like this!" I just laughed, because the teacher actually was an old Hawaiian chef and he probably made thousands of mayonnaise shrimp salad stuffed pineapples back in the 1950's. As the old saying goes, some things never go out of style!
*This entire recipe yields 1 large stuffed pineapple that can be shared by 2 guests.
Poached Shrimp Preparation:
Step 1: Place 1 quart of water in a large sauce pot.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
Add 1/2 tablespoon of whole black peppercorns.
Add 1 teaspoon of whole mustard seed.
Add 2 laurel leaves.
Add 1 thick slice of lemon.
Step 2: Place the pot over high heat and bring the liquid to a boil.
Add 1/2 pound of peeled and deveined large shrimp. (Remove the tails. Large shrimp =16/20 count per pound.)
Poach the shrimp, till they are fully cooked. (About 3 to 4 minutes)
Step 3: Use a fryer net to place the shrimp in a container of ice water.
After the shrimp are cold, drain off the water.
Chill the poached shrimp till they are needed.
Popcorn Shrimp Preparation:
Popcorn Shrimp are usually sold frozen. They are peeled and fully cooked.
Place 1 cup of thawed popcorn shrimp in a wire screen strainer.
Squeeze out any excess moisture.
Chill the popcorn shrimp till they are needed.
Step 1: Split 1 whole pineapple in half lengthwise and keep the leaves attached. (Save 1 half of the pineapple for another recipe.)
Step 2: Use kitchen shears to trim the sharp points off of the leaves, so the green top has a uniform look.
Step 3: Cut a small flat spot on the pineapple rind, so the pineapple half will sit evenly.
Step 4: Use a paring knife to cut the fruit free from the rind and to create a hollow pineapple bowl. (The walls of the pineapple bowl should be about 3/8" thick.)
*The pineapple fruit is not needed for the shrimp salad. Either snack on the trimmed pineapple fruit or save it for another recipe!
Step 5: Use a paring knife to crown cut the rim of the bowl. (Crown Cut = Wolf's Tooth French precision cut)
Chill the finished pineapple bowl till it is needed.
Cilantro Mango Shrimp Salad:
Step 1: Place 1/2 cup of diced mango in a mixing bowl.
Add the reserved poached large shrimp.
Add the reserved popcorn shrimp.
Step 2: Add 2 tablespoons of diced celery.
Add 2 tablespoons of diced red bell pepper.
Add 1 tablespoon of chopped seeded green jalapeño.
Add 2 tablespoons of diced bermuda onion.
Add 1 tablespoon of sliced green onion.
Step 3: Add 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro.
Add 1 small pinch of ground celery seed.
Add 1 small pinch of allspice.
Add 1 pinch of ginger powder.
Add 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika.
Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
Step 4: Add just enough mayonnaise to bind the ingredients together. (About 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup)
Mix the ingredients.
Chill the Cilantro Mango Shrimp Salad to 41ºF in a refrigerator.
Cilantro Mango Shrimp Salad Stuffed Pineapple:
Mound a generous amount of the Cilantro Mango Shrimp Salad in the pineapple bowl.
Set the stuffed pineapple on a platter.
Garnish the pineapple with cilantro sprigs and lime wedges.
Garnish the plate with cilantro sprigs.
Dust the shrimp salad with 1 pinch of Spanish Paprika.
Put on some sandals, Bermuda shorts, a Hawaiian shirt, sunglasses and just go for it! This stuffed pineapple definitely is a summertime treat!