Typically, I have a simple rule when traveling outside of Hawaii – don’t eat (Hawaii) local food. But, for certain restaurants such as Noreetuh in New York, I make an exception to that rule. But, with no way to actually go there right now, I decided to recreate their signature dessert at home. So here’s my take on how to make Brûléed Pineapple.
If you’ve never heard of Noreetuh before, you really should check them out. Local boy Chung Chow – a Roosevelt alumnus – teamed up with friends he made during his time at the three Michelin Star Per Se in New York to open Noreetuh. And while the menu isn’t “Hawaiian food,” Chow does us proud by churning out an eclectic menu of Hawaii-inspired dishes.
Among menu items such as “Imperial Steak” or Uni Cavatelli, you’ll find more familiar dishes such as Oxtail Soup and Truffle Spam Musubi. In fact, the lone Corned Beef Tongue Musubi on the menu during our visit has now expanded to an entire section ranging from humble Spam to the truffle version, and even one lobster and yuzu kosho. However, one item that hasn’t changed is their iconic Brûléed Pineapple.
Now, when our FBI (from Big Island) server suggested we order the Brûléed Pineapple, despite knowing we’re from Hawaii, I was skeptical. But, good is good. The dish, which is comprised of only four ingredients, is refreshing and delicious. I could eat this all the time without getting sick of it. So, when my cravings became unbearable, I decided to try my hand at recreating it.
What You’ll Need
Of all the recipes I’ve posted on this site so far, this is, by far, the simplest. Especially when you compare it to my last one – the Tart Calamansi Bars. What’s more, you can source everything but the sugar locally! Take a look.
- 1 whole Pineapple – Noreetuh uses Maui Gold. I’d suggest using either Maui Gold or Hawaiian Crown
- Superfine white sugar*
- 1 lime
- ‘Alaea Salt
- Sharp knife
- Cutting board
*Note: if you can’t find superfine or “quick dissolve” sugar, you can use plain-old white sugar. Your results should be roughly the same this way. Superfine sugar simply melts faster.
Prep Your Pineapple
There’s really no right or wrong way to make this dish. However, if you want to do things as they do at Noreetuh, you’ll need to quarter (lengthwise) your pineapple whole. Don’t skin it or take off the crown. I did this the first time and cutting through the crown wasn’t fun. So, while I refined my technique for this post, I took the crown off.
Once you’ve cut your pineapple into quarters, you’ll then want to take your knife and separate the fruit from the skin in a single piece. This can be tricky thanks to the curvature of the pineapple, so it helps if you use a smaller knife like a pairing knife to do this step. Then, once the fruit is separated from the skin, slice it up and place back into the skin.
Sugar it Up
After you have all your pieces ready to go, very generously sprinkle your re-assembled pineapple quarters with sugar. You don’t want to put too much, but you don’t want to put too little either. If you put too little sugar, you won’t be able to caramelize it. So, if you’re unsure, err on the side of too much. The worst that’ll happen is the hardened sugar layer might be too thick.
Light ‘um Up!
With your pineapple sugared, you’re now ready to brûlée its sugar coating. To do this, you’ll want to place your pineapple on a heat-proof surface. I’d suggest using a foil-lined cookie sheet. DO NOT do what I did. You could potentially burn your cutting board (I scorched mine a little) and cleaning melted sugar off of it is not fun.
Carefully following your blowtorch manufacturer’s instructions, light the torch and steadily move it over your pineapple in a gentle back and forth motion. You don’t want to keep the flame stationary as it’ll quickly burn the sugar in the area. So, keeping the flame moving will provide for more even results. Timing, by the way, will depend on how hot your torch gets and how thick your sugar layer is. For me, it took less than 20 seconds. But, I’m also using a really high-powered soldering torch since it’s what my Searzall requires.
Ultimately, you’re looking to completely melt all your sugar and create a nice, golden crust.
While brûléeing the pineapple is a pretty crucial step in this whole recipe, this next step is, perhaps, even more important. That’s because this is where the flavor comes in. Here, you’re simply zesting some lime over your brûléed pineapple. Ideally, you’d want to do this while the sugar is still warm and pliable. Don’t sweat it if it’s not, though. The important part here is that you only zest the green part of your lime skins – leave the nasty, bitter white part behind.
Now, at Noreetuh, they go easy on the lime zest. I however, like to have a strong lime flavor and am a little more heavy handed with it. So do you in this step. Taste a piece and if you feel like it needs more, add more! There’s no right or wrong answer.
After showering your pineapple quarter with some lime zest, you’re going to finish it off with a light sprinkling of ‘Alaea salt. Once you do this, you’ll want to serve your pineapple pretty quickly. It won’t hurt to let it sit for a few minutes. But, eventually, the juice in the pineapple is going to melt your sugar and everything will begin running off.
Et voila! You’ve successfully recreated Noreetuh’s iconic Pineapple Brûlée at home. That said, if you’re ever in New York, please do give them a try. Yes, there’s definitely a local influence there, but the food is different and interesting enough to make the trek worth it.
How to Make Brûléed Pineapple, Final Thoughts
Taste and simplicity aside, this recipe is a great one to keep in your back pocket. Sugar and salt are pantry items you likely already have. The other two ingredients, the pineapple and lime, are super easy to find too. However, if you want to do things right, you really do need to use the right pineapple. Lucky you, Farm Link Hawaii sells Maui Gold Pineapples and limes. So, as long as you already have your sugar and salt, you can make this recipe without ever leaving home!
Speaking of Farm Link Hawaii, if you like this post, please help support future posts like this by using my Farm Link Hawaii referral link to sign up. By doing so, I’ll get a referral credit towards my next order, while you’ll get $10 credit too! Win-win. Plus, through the end of April, they’re waiving their delivery fees!