Jackfruit is native to Asia and is difficult to get fresh here in the states. It has been dubbed the ‘vegetable meat’ in India, because, in its unripe state, it has a stringy, chewy consistency that can replace meat in many dishes. In honor of our supper club this evening, where I will be giving a demo, I’m putting this online for my subscribers.
Here in west Michigan, we only have access to canned versions. But after reading this blog on the adventures of using a fresh jackfruit, I can live with the canned version for now. Here is the kind that we buy. I have seen it at Spice of India, Mediterranean Island, and Asian Delight Market, next to Horrock’s on 44th. Make sure to get the green ‘unripe’ version of the fruit. The ripe version is sweet.
Okay, canned jackfruit is preserved in citric acid, so first thing you want to do is rinse it thoroughly in a strainer.
Following that you want to squeeze the water out of it. You’ve probably had the experience of not squeezing enough water out of spinach and having a soupy dip–yuk! The more you squeeze your little jackfruit pieces, the better. They will readily absorb sauces this way. I usually take two or three pieces in my hand at a time. This is what it should look like:
Next, you want to separate the strands. Now, this is where I get a little bored. I don’t know all that much about jackfruit anatomy, but to my thinking, there are three parts to deal with: the lovely stringy stuff, the seedpods and the harder core pieces.
You definitely want to use them all and various recipes have you separating the parts after cooking–very messy–or separating them by hand as you massage in the spices–very tedious. “There’s got to be a better way!” Turns out, there is …
You could just take a couple of your squeezed handfuls and put them in your food processor. Pulse maybe 5, 6, 7 times. Or you could do as I do and take five minutes to separate the stringy bits from the core and seeds and pulse the bejeebers out the core and seeds first. Then add the stringy bit and pulse a time or two more.
This is perfect for pulled pork-alikes! But, you can also get a gleeful and throw all the rest in and turn the processor on and end up with…well, something more like sloppy joes!
So, to try things out, once you’ve got your jackfruit ready, stir it up with your favorite barbeque sauce (last time I made this, I used two cans of jackfruit and about 3 cups of sauce. Don’t fear soupiness, you can always drain it). You can heat the two together in the microwave or simmer it for twenty minutes or put it in the slow cooker for a few hours. You want to give the jackfruit time to absorb the sauce. Here’s what the finished dish looks like…
Below find my favorite ‘no cook’ kinda healthy bbq sauce. We have used jackfruit to make ‘crab cakes.’ These are amazing! Roger, my cooking husband, recommends that you reduce the amount of lemon juice you use to offset the citric acid in the canned fruit. I’ve used them to make jackfruit carnitas with, what else, avocado cream!! They are so very delicious. I will provide recipes for all these things in time, but at the moment, I must clean my house.
Sue’s Que Recipe
2 cups of sugar-free or reduced sugar ketchup
1/4 cup molasses
2 T reduced-sodium tamari
2 T tomato paste
1/4 cup date sugar*
1/4 100% jam preserves (I like cherry!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T smoked paprika
A few dashes of hot sauce (I like chipotle for this—it’s sweet and smoky)
*Date sugar is dried ground dates, so you get sweet but all the trace minerals, too. Look for them in health food stores
I recommend eating this Carolina style with a bunch of coleslaw on top. It’s a sweet bbq sauce, too, but you can adjust to your liking.
This is so easy, you don’t have to take my class, but it’s a lot of fun if you do!