This pineapple cucumber salad is one of the easiest salads you can make. Simply toss everything in a bowl with a fermented brine that doubles as a flavorful Asian dressing thanks to the work of microbes.
As a fan of sour flavors, I love fermented brine. After I have polished off the fermented vegetables, I do not throw out any of the leftover brine. Instead, I save it for two purposes.
First, to use for backslopping. The Fermentation Association defines backslopping as “the practice of saving a bit of the last successful batch and incorporating it into the new one.” It is a favored practice because it immediately ensures the presence of microorganisms, lessens risk of failure, and helps accelerate the fermentation. However, some say that because of the accelerated fermentation, flavor development may not be as complex.
Second, I like using fermented brine as a vinegar substitute, with its well-known lactic sourness. As a bonus it has a funkiness that I find appetizing, having loved bagoong (fermented shrimp paste) as a child. I find it is perfect for Asian-inspired salads such as this recipe and our Coconut Mango Salad.
A lot of Asian salads are known for combining sweet, sour, salty, heat, and umami. For the sour, salt, and umami, we’re relying on the ferment. (Isn’t it such a hard worker?)
For this recipe we need the pineapples to be sweet and ripe. There’s no getting around this. If your pineapple is only partly sweet, wait for it to fully ripen. We need that fruity sweetness to balance the strong ferment. That’s why we also used yacon, which adds another sweet dimension along with some crunch. If you don’t have yacon, you can double the pineapple or use sweet pears or apples.
Follow your heart when it comes to heat. If you want to make it spicy, mix the chili early on. If you want just a bit, toss it in before serving or use as garnish.
No oils here!
What’s great about this recipe is that it is oil free. The dish is actually quite healthy!
Just combine everything in a bowl, season with a bit of salt, and set aside in the fridge for the flavors to fully combine. Because there are no green leafies in this dish, there’s no danger of serving wilted salad. Your cucumber and yacon will still have crunch and would have simply softened, which we want.
You will find that the dressing settles at the bottom. Don’t worry! This is fairly standard in some Asian salads. Either just combine again before serving or set aside to use as a sawsawan (dip), which we tried with our fried lumpia.
Garnish with nuts if you want a bit of fat and additional texture.
- 1 cucumber (no need to peel if organic)
- 1 medium yacon (or singkamas, pears, apple, etc), peeled
- 1 cup ripe pineapple chunks
- ¼ cup Fermented French Beans, chopped
- 1 small jalapeño, sliced thinly (optional)
- 3 Tbsp brine of Fermented French Beans
- ½ tsp salt
- chopped peanuts or cashews
- Slice the cucumber and yacon into thin wedges. Combine with pineapple chunks in a mixing bowl.
- Add Fermented French Beans and jalapeño slices if using.
- Add the brine and salt. Mix gently until everything is well combined.
- Refrigerate for at least half an hour before serving.
- To serve, mix again before transferring to a salad bowl. Garnish with peanuts.