We know what you’re thinking. Fruit as a meat substitute? No way! But to that, we say, “Way”! At least when it comes to this wonderful tropical treasure we call jackfruit. With its mildly sweet taste and meaty texture, jackfruit has exploded on the food scene as a healthy and delicious alternative to meat. In fact, unripe jackfruit has risen in popularity due to its similarity to the consistency of pulled pork or chicken, which is what inspired today’s recipe. The idea of using an unripe fruit in a savory recipe may sound unusual but trust us when we say it works! Slather the jackfruit flesh in warm, fragrant spices and your favorite sauce and top it off with a homemade cole slaw and you won’t be able to taste the difference between this hearty vegetarian favorite and your favorite pulled “pork” sandwich recipe.
Jackfruit is known to be the world’s largest tree fruit, averaging around 15 to 33 pounds per fruit. One single fruit can carry over a hundred bulbs, all of which hold a nutty-tasting seed. The fruit ripens and eventually reveals a delicious, fragrant yellow flesh when cut open. Jackfruit can be eaten in many different ways such as in curries, stir-fries, and even ice cream. When eaten fresh, ripe jackfruit is soft and succulent and tastes like a sweet cross between mangoes and pineapples, similar to the flavor of Juicy Fruit gum. If using in savory recipes such as today’s recipe, it’s best to utilize it in its unripe form for its meaty, fibrous texture. Its more mellow, starchy flavor can serve as a blank canvas for adding different spices and sauces, making it a great meatless option for vegetarians and vegans.
The skin is tough and covered with spiky, little knobs and while the task of cutting up a jackfruit sounds like an daunting task, it’s not quite as difficult as it sounds as long as you have a few tools on hand. Here’s our handy step-by-step guide in how to cut a fresh jackfruit:
BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches
Yields: 4-6 sandwiches
- 6 lbs of unripe jackfruit, flesh removed from seeds
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- Your favorite BBQ Sauce
- Buns of your choice
For the cole slaw
- 1 head of organic cabbage, shredded
- 1 red cabbage, shredded
- 3 organic carrots, shredded
- 1 cup of mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Begin by making the cole slaw. Combined the shredded cabbage, red cabbage and carrots. Add the mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper and toss thoroughly, making sure all the vegetables are coated evenly. Place in the refrigerator and chill until ready to use.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large pan, sauté the onions with olive oil for about 5 minutes until they become translucent. Add the minced garlic and sauté for another 30 seconds.
3. Place the jackfruit in the pan, along with the brown sugar, cayenne pepper, paprika and salt. Sauté it for about 4 minutes with the spices, making sure all the pieces of evenly coated.
4. Add the water and BBQ sauce. Simmer covered on medium low heat while stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes until the sauce mixture has thickened and most of the liquid has evaporated.
5. Once the jackfruit has finished cooking, allow for to cool for a bit before placing it onto a flat surface. Use 2 forks to pull it apart into chunks so that it resembles pulled pork. You may add a little more BBQ sauce if you’d like.
6. Take out the cole slaw from the refrigerator. Assemble the sandwiches by topping some of the BBQ jackfruit onto the bun, followed by a scoop of cole slaw.
Have you ever tried jackfruit? What are some other ways to enjoy this incredible tropical fruit?