We know why smoking works so well as a cooking method. Low heat creates smoke for flavor and cooks meat or fish at the same time. When you don’t have hours of time to smoke, you move to planking. Fillets or smaller cuts of salmon, chicken or pork come off the grill imparted with the flavor of the wood, thanks to high heat and a block of soaking wet cedar, alder, or maple.
But maybe you don’t want wood. Maybe you are cooking a mild, white fish like cod and want something more tropical and fruity. Pineapple skins make a suitable substitute for wood and achieve that flavor-related goals of turning cod fillets into something less smoky. Typically, you see this type of treatment for salmon but I really don’t like the pink fish. The common ground in my house for filleted fish is cod. It flakes well, has a mild flavor, and responds well to just about every possible flavor.
The key is preserving the exterior of the pineapple as best as you can. Simply carving out the fruit with a knife may damage its walls, so it’s worth picking up one of those pineapple corers that twists rings out of the fruit and avoids the woody core. It’s a pretty handy device to own above and beyond this recipe. Pineapples run between $3.99 and $5.99 whole, and you make your money back on this tool after a couple of uses.
Once you get the pineapple out of the shell, a quick pineapple salsa is the perfect accent to the fish. I made a basic pineapple, onion and cilantro salsa, but a little serrano or jalepeño pepper will raise the heat.
WHAT WORKED: Cod isn’t the end all here. Tilapia, branzino, sole or catfish will work here as well, depending on what is in season and what you can obtain.
WHAT DIDN’T: I used a litttttttttle too much cayenne for The Wife’s liking. I drew it back in the recipe below.
EASE OF PREPARATION: Medium-easy. People get intimidated by pineapple, but shouldn’t.
BEST FOR: Weeknights or weekends. This is versatile and easy to make on any day of the week.
SERVE WITH: Tortilla chips for the salsa. I made black beans and rice as a side, but you could ixnay the rice, add some flour tortillas and make tacos.