Christmas day I was the recipient of a stunning Breville electric wok. Prior to this, pure defeat was continually bestowed upon me by the villainous, standard wok. Countless times the standard wok refused to unite with my ceramic range in stir fry battle. Behold, the electric wok swings in and saves the day. High off the thoughts of seeing my new wok in a red cape fighting off the mediocre, amusing thoughts of stir fry danced in my head. Thumbing through books, I located Stir Fry: Tasty Recipes for Every Day. Over 200 stir fry recipes encompass this book, and when I flipped to Vietnamese Chicken with Pineapple and Cashews I salivated. Another adventure of making a Vietnamese dish would be the ultimate challenge for the Breville wok. Complete innocence I possessed, not knowing the aftermath would result in utter chaos.
High off the dish execution and the first bite being tasty, the aftermath was in slow motion. The next day, with my stomach grumbling for more, I approached the refrigerator door, pulled the handle, grabbed the bowl, and placed it on the counter. As I lifted the bowl lid, I froze with confusion. I struggled to comprehend where my dish had gone and what was right before me. Denial set in as I spooned the stir fry onto a plate of udon noodles, placed the dish in the microwave, and hit the one minute button. It was as if I expected the microwave to work magic, but this was wishful thinking. As I took the first leftover bite, a rancid taste filled my mouth. I immediately became sick and knew, after years of cooking, for the first time a dish went bad within 24 hours.
As I racked my brain to understand how crispy bell peppers, onion, cashews, and chicken could turn to a pile of mush so quickly, I could not help but instinctively know it was the pineapple that terrorized the other ingredients. Pineapple and I have always had a copacetic relationship, as we go back to when growing up in California, my mom would purchase a fresh pineapple and leave it on the windowsill to ripen. Up until this moment, pineapple meant happy memories. As my mind continued to race, only the thoughts of pineapple’s hidden arsenal of acid on a tirade filled my mind. Like a Sylvester Stallone movie, he loaded his gun chamber and let it rip. The poor, helpless ingredients did not stand a chance with this secret arsenal. The cooked pineapple’s acid impressively withstood the high heat of a wok. And so I ask, is pineapple a terror?