Pineapple heart or heart of pineapple (Vietnamese: củ hủ khóm) is the inner core of a pineapple plant, which is similar to heart of palm. Pineapple heart is popular in Hậu Giang province (southern Vietnam’s Mekong Delta), where pineapple is widely cultivated.
In Vietnamese language, pineapple is called dứa in Northern dialect, and either khóm or thơm in Southern dialect depending on whether the pineapple leaves have thorns or not. Khóm pineapple is smaller in size but sweeter in taste and has thorny leaves. In Hậu Giang province, the pineapple there is also known as Cầu Đúc pineapple (khóm Cầu Đúc), whose name means a concrete bridge that links to the cultivation history of the pineapple in the region.
In such pineapple orchards, when pineapple bushes are too old, they will be harvest for their pineapple hearts, rather than for their fruits. When a pineapple shrub is harvested for its heart, it will no longer survive, and farmers will plant new seedlings for new crops. In general, a farmer will not harvest pineapple hearts so often, so pineapple hearts are quite rare and it becomes a delicacy in some sense, which everyone wants to try how they taste once.
Pineapple hearts have some soft texture, slightly chewy but crunchy, and have a delicate taste, a bit sweet and sour. They can be shredded in to pieces and used in salads, in bánh xèo pancake or in pickles.
The common Vietnamese salad dish includes cooked pork belly and shrimps. Alternately, other versions may include chicken shreds, or sliced pork stomach or even dried fish.
Use a vegetable shredder to shred the pineapple hearts into julienne pieces or use knife to slice them into thin and long pieces. Blanch the pineapple heart pieces in hot water and then drain and set aside.
Boil prawns in a pot of water with some rice wine and ginger slices for 5 m ins, and let them cool. Then peel and cut the prawns into halves lengthwise.
In a pot of water with some Asian shallots, cook the pork belly for 10-15 mins, and let it cool. Then slice into bite-size pieces.
In a saucepan, add 3 tablespoons of fish sauce, and 1/2 tablespoons of sugar, and a little MSG if needed. Heat the pan and stir until the sugar is dissolved, and let it cool.
In a salad bowl, add the pineapple hearts pieces, then some extra vegetables like carrots and cucumber. Pour the fish sauce, minced garlic, and lime juice, then toss all the ingredients up. Next, add chopped Vietnamese mint leaves, and crushed roasted peanuts. Save some for toppings.