Grilled Pineapple with Star Anise-Ginger-Jalapeno Syrup by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan


August 31, 2018

The dessert-du-jour in a Benihana restaurant in the early 70’s was vanilla ice cream with slivered crystallized ginger. (The crystallized ginger may well be an imaginary embellishment.)
I liked that there was no dessert choice; I thought that was very modern. And I thought that a simple dish of ice cream was a quiet and elegant finish to a cleaver-tossing dinner performance.
The whole experience was very fancy and exotic to my young self.

This is a quick-to-make dessert with sweet-spicy flavors. I have offered it here with purchased vanilla ice cream but making your own saffron ice cream would be spectacular! (To make: infuse vanilla ice cream base/crème anglaise custard with several threads of saffron while still warm. Strain, chill and churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.)

  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yields: Serves 4-6


1 ½ cups water

1 ¼ cups granulated sugar

Pinch kosher salt

2-3 pieces of star anise

1 ½ inch piece of fresh gingerroot, washed and thinly sliced

1 small jalapeno pepper (green or red; a red jalapeno is a ‘Fresno’)

the peel(rind) and juice of one medium juicy lime

1 whole pineapple

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed

1 quart of vanilla ice cream


~Begin by washing and slicing the knob of fresh ginger into thin slivers. (No need to peel the ginger, as it will be strained out after cooking.) Wash the jalapeno, cut in half, lengthwise and remove seeds and membranes. Wear gloves. Cut each half lengthwise again and then slice across into very fine slivers. Set aside. Use a sharp peeler and remove 2-3 strips of peel from the lime. (Try not to get too much of the white under-layer; it can be bitter.) Then cut the lime in half and juice it. Set juice aside.

~ Next, make the sugar syrup. In a small non-aluminum saucepan, combine the water and the sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the strips of lime peel, the star anise pieces, 1 heaping tablespoon of the jalapeno slivers, the sliced fresh ginger and a pinch of salt.

Let the syrup cook briefly, (less than 5 minutes) until the syrup lightly coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and let steep for 20 minutes or longer. Strain, add lime juice slowly to taste…you may not need to add all of it. Add a bit more of your leftover sliced jalapeno peppers.

Let syrup cool to room temperature or make in advance and refrigerate. If syrup gets too thick, thin it out by adding 1-2 tablespoons cold water.

~ Trim the pineapple. Cut the top and bottom off the pineapple. Set the pineapple upright on the cutting board and use a knife to cut away ‘swath’ sections of the peel in downward cuts. Turn the pineapple after each cut. (Watching a “You Tube” video will be very helpful if you have not done this or seen it done…

Enter: “How to Trim a Pineapple” into your search engine.)

Remove the brown ‘eyes’ with a paring knife or melon baller. Lay the trimmed pineapple on its side and slice across into 1-inch slices. Use a pastry cutter (or bottle cap!) and remove the core from the center of each piece.

~ Ready to grill: Preheat the grill and clean/brush the grates and rub with a bit of oil.

Lay the pineapple slices on a sheet pan in a single layer. Pat each slice dry and brush the tops and bottoms with vegetable oil. Don’t soak the slices in oil or it will just flame-up and burn on the grill.

Lay each piece on the grill and just briefly grill. The pieces will sear and release; don’t keep moving them. Turn them over once.

~ To serve:

Remove grilled pieces to a clean platter. Overlap the pieces. Liberally drizzle with the reserved syrup. Scoop balls of vanilla ice cream on top, add a bit more syrup and some fresh mint garnish if you have it.

Prep time for syrup & pineapple combined: 30 minutes
Cooking time for syrup & pineapple combined: 20 minutes