You Don’t Know Jack (Fruit)

My husband decided to become vegan a few weeks ago. I thought it would be easier in the household if I followed suit. It wasn’t much of a stretch for me. I haven’t been a meat eater since high school and cut down on dairy when health issues necessitated limiting my salt intake. Driving in the South behind chicken trucks bound for one of the processing plants down there was enough to swear me off most store bought eggs. I’ll spare you the details. Just be glad you weren’t born a chicken.

I have never been one for fake foods, processed fake cheese, and processed fake meat. Early in my marriage, my well meaning in-laws ambushed me with something called “Not Dogs” at a family gathering. I barely escaped with the relationship intact. I have always been suspicious of products with names like “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Margarine.”

Which brings me to jackfruit. Right now, I am sitting in my kitchen with my cat Boris listening to cannon explosions coming from my oven. I had thought it would be fun to purchase a fresh jackfruit and try one of the recipes I see all over the Internet for Jackfruit vegan pulled pork. There are a number of large seeds inside jackfruit which they recommend you roast in the oven. None of the recipes mentioned that the seeds might explode.

Not to mention that I don’t know if vegan jackfruit pulled pork tastes like pulled pork because I don’t think I have ever eaten pulled pork in my life. But I love a challenge, especially the kind where there is nothing at stake but a weird looking fruit. And I have a solution to the exploding seeds at the end of this post.

I cut up my jackfruit a day before I used it after reading numerous articles on how to do it.

In retrospect, I probably should have saved the white, stringy fiber. But none of the many web sites and videos that I happened to I consult before cutting up my jackfruit told me to do that. I ran into problems getting clear, concise directions for which parts of the freshly-cut jackfruit are edible and should be used for vegan pulled pork. One site says that the white, stringy part of the jackfruit should be discarded and only the yellow fruit used. Another site says that the white stringy part makes the best vegan pulled pork dish. Another site contains such general information that I wonder if the writer ever met a fresh jackfruit. Yet another site contains information that assumes reader knowledge, basically instructing to cut up the fresh jackfruit and use it. Not helpful when you don’t know what you are doing. The recipes that call for canned jackfruit are less problematic. Just open the can and chop, boil, or whatever.

So my vegan pulled pork used the yellow pulp only. It was good, but I think the finished product would have been better with with directions that were more thought out and didn’t assume knowledge. The basic instructions are to dissect your jackfruit, save the seeds for roasting, shred the yellow pulpy part and boil the hell out of it.

I duly shredded my yellow jackfruit pulp (tedious) and cooked it in vegetable broth. I am not sure why the recipes tell you to do this. It takes forever and doesn’t really change the character of the yellow pulpy jackfruit all that much. Maybe it is different if you use the white stringy part which I will definitely try the next time I tackle this.

But I can recommend Penzy’s vegetable broth with no reservations. It’s fresh and delicious. In fact, I recommend all Penzy’s products. Check out their website here.

After boiling my jackfruit, I sautéd onions, peppers, and portobello mushrooms with garlic and some spices and added it to the jackfruit.

Then I spread the mixture on a sheet pan and covered it with easy home made microwaved barbecue sauce where I used hot pepper and tomato paste instead of ketchup.

The finished product was delicious with a hint of sweetness from the Jackfruit that was tempered by the barbecue sauce. While this is not a substitute for pulled pork, it would be wonderful with rice. Some oven-baked tofu cubes or chick peas would enhance it even more. Or serve over noodles.

Fresh Jackfruit Pulled Pork

I bought a 10 lb. jackfruit and used half of it. After covering it with broth and boiling it, I chopped up 5 fresh garlic cloves, one large onion, red, green and yellow peppers and one large portobello cap which I sautéd in olive oil with some spices. I used sweet paprika, cumin, Mural of Flavor, a splash of liquid smoke and a goodly sprinkle of hot pepper flakes. I didn’t use any salt. I spread it on a foil-lined sheet pan sprayed with cooking spray, topped it with Easy Barbecue Sauce and baked it at 350 F for 30 minutes. The second time I made it, I baked it in a casserole dish. Much easier. This is great served over Japanese buckwheat noodles which I get at my local Asian market. You can also buy them on Amazon. But I think plain old spaghetti would work too.

Easy Barbecue Sauce

Add to a four cup microwavable container

  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 T cider vinegar
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1 T onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper flakes

Add 1/2 cup water to this. Cover and microwave on high 3 minutes, stir, and use.

I think there is a simple solution for the exploding roasted jackfruit seeds. Before you roast chestnuts, you cut an “X” in each one to let out the steam that develops inside during roasting. You can do the same with jackfruit seeds which are covered with a skin. Voila! No more (or fewer) explosions and I bet they would be easier to peel for eating, too. I’m going to try this with my next fresh jackfruit. Do roast the seeds. They are “foody” as my mother would say.

Some more tips: people are falling all over themselves telling you to line your counter with plastic wrap so the sticky latex-like jackfruit innards don’t stick to it. Uh, don’t we have a problem with plastic pollution or is that something I dreamed up? Grab a few sheets of newspaper or cut open a paper bag and work on that. Reuse something.