The first time I came across jackfruit in the grocery store, I knew instantly I had to try it. It wasn't in its natural form, but rather a pre-made package that was flavored like chili lime carnitas. How could I not be intrigued? Frying it up and stuffing it into a taco, I had fallen in love.
One look at its odd prickly yellowish-green exterior and you would probably question if it were even edible. But as the idiom goes, don't judge a book by its cover. The fibrous flesh has a texture similar to meat, making it extremely versatile in cooking. Vegetarian and vegan dishes often flavor it to replace meats like pulled pork or chicken. It can also be eaten raw and is often used in desserts and salads.
Believed to have originated in India, the drought-resistant crop is cultivated in regions with tropical climates including Thailand, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines and other areas in Southeast Asia. Jackfruit is the largest tree fruit in the world that is also high in fiber, low-fat, low in calories, high in protein, rich in vitamin B, and contains potassium, iron, and calcium. Plus have you ever looked at a jackfruit tree? It's one of the largest tree fruit in the world.
Young unripe fruit - or green jackfruit - has a texture similar to pulled pork, making this dense fruit the perfect meat alternative. Even if you're not vegan or vegetarian, the taste and meaty texture of this fruit will entice you to indulge in a Meatless Monday here and there.
How to Prep Jackfruit
When it comes to prep, cutting into this tropical fruit can be just as confusing as a mango. Do you slice down the middle? If so, then what? There are a few routes you can take to prepping.
First, you should know that jackfruit is sticky. Slice into the ripe fruit and your hands will become covered with a natural latex substance, so it's best to oil your hands and knife beforehand. From there, slice right down the middle of the longest side until you wind up with two halves. Slice each into chunks with the skin on, then boil for about 45 minutes. Once the flesh becomes tender, you can peel the skin right off, discard the jackfruit seeds, and get ready to prepare your recipe.
What About Canned Jackfruit?
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Jackfruit was once only found in Asian markets but has since grown in popularity. While not all stores carry fresh jackfruit, you can find it canned at stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. It should be noted, however, that you will find it in two forms, brined and syrup. Brined is ideal for savory dishes like curries and tacos. When it is in syrup, it tends to be too sweet so leave that for the ice cream recipes.
Now that your jackfruit is ready, what are you going to do with it? Perhaps you're in the mood for a jackfruit curry, maybe a jackfruit pulled pork sandwich, or just want a snack for dipping. There are so many options! Making life a bit easier, we rounded up seven yummy jackfruit recipes so you can make the most of this fruit.
1. Vegan Jackfruit Gyros
Jackfruit can be an excellent meat substitute in Greek gyros if you prep it right like Lazy Cat Kitchen. She cooks the fruit in a heaping of spices, soy sauce, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, and tomato paste, then piles it into a warmed pita with red onion slices, cherry tomatoes, crisp cucumber, lettuce, potato fries, and a homemade tzatziki. Hungry yet?
2. Boa Buns with Pulled Jackfruit
If you really want to go all out, make a few of these succulent and savory Boa Buns. A soft, fluffy homemade bun is stuffed with Asian flavored faux pork jackfruit, fresh herbs, cabbage, cucumber, daikon, spicy chili sauce, sweet hoisin sauce, and some crunchy peanuts for more texture. Go on, get your pork bun on.
3. BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches with Avocado Slaw
For those that can't seem to get enough pulled pork barbecue sandwiches, you have got to sink your teeth into this. The texture and taste of the jackfruit are enough to fool you into thinking it really is pork. Slathered in BBQ sauce, loaded with homemade avocado slaw, and topped with cashews, this sandwich will convince even the most skeptical that jackfruit is amazing.
4. Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos
Remember those carnitas I mentioned earlier? Here's how to make them homemade. Marinate canned young jackfruit in water with spices, tamari, and maple syrup. Cook it up with some onions, garlic, Bouillon, and peppers, then pile it onto a corn tortilla with fresh homemade mango salsa and a homemade lime crema sauce.
Tropical, flavorful, and brimming with goodness, these are the tacos that will turn Taco Tuesday into meatless Tuesday.
5. Veggie Pulled Pork Nachos
This is the recipe that everyone will be raving about. The secret? Barbecue sauce drenched jackfruit.
Ideal for football parties, potlucks, birthday parties, and pretty much any gathering you can think off, once your friends get sight of this they'll be flocking like a moth to a flame until every last morsel is gone.
6. Buffalo Jackfruit Spinach Dip
If you're looking for a new appetizer to take a break from all those classic chip and dip pairings, then look no further. A play on buffalo chicken dip, jackfruit transforms this into a vegan treat worth savoring with every dip.
7. Jackfruit Ice Cream
Now, about that ice cream. We talked a whole lot about savory dishes, but jackfruit can be just as good in dessert. And what better dessert for it than the one no one can say no to, ice cream! With four ingredients and a few simple steps, you will understand why jackfruit is the jack of all trades.
Chef's Notes: This would also taste great paired with the Thai dessert mango sticky rice.