I’m not the world’s biggest fake meat fan. I can go for weeks without eating anything that’s supposed to be a faux-whatever. But I definitely jump at the chance to create a faux-something from an unexpected ingredient – you might remember my nerdtastic yuba “dragon” from last year. Its one of the things I like best about vegan food, the ways it can make me feel like a mad scientist, trying to concoct something familiar (or ridiculous) out of something else entirely.
Enter – jackfruit “pulled pork.” I’ve eaten it before, most notably at Hot Beans in Toronto, and I’ve seen several other blogs create their own takes on it.
While visiting my parents a few weeks ago, I remembered there was this can of unripened jackfruit that had been languishing in their pantry since I picked it up in a Chinatown market last summer. We were all a little skeptical, after the unfortunate/revolting can of “mock duck” I bought on the same trip had a grody stench reminiscent of cat food. Mystery canned/processed foods are clearly not my jam, I decided, and so the jackfruit sat. And sat some more. But then, on this visit to Salt Spring, we were feeling a little adventurous, a little “why the hell not.” Up for an experiment: the jackfruit experiment. At least it’s just fruit in a can, right? Not some sketchy gluten product with creepy faux-duck skin pock marks (one of those times when fake meat is just too convincing, I guess.)
I did my usual recon of jackfruit recipes and BBQ sauce recipes, before closing all books and blogs, and just going for it. I think I’ve mentioned before I’m not so great at following recipes in my own kitchen. It’s why I’m not much of a baker.
I figured, I know what BBQ sauce should taste like, I know my own preferences run more to the spicy and tangy than overly sweet. I marinated the ‘fruit in some dry spices for the afternoon, whipped up an impromptu ‘que sauce, and stewed them together for a while. Honestly – it could have cooked longer, but we were hungry and impatient after an afternoon of hiking, so we just went for it. And it was delicious.
I topped it with a cashew sour cream, just like the BBQ burdock we made when I worked at Live Organic Food Bar.
Seriously, guys. This was crazy delicious.
It’s mostly about the sauce, so make sure you use a recipe you like, but the texture of the jackfruit is stringy, a bit chewy, and substantially meaty enough to stand up to being cooked for a good while in a tasty sauce. We went for tacos, but you could just as easily make a sandwich, or serve it on a plate with some grain, sweet potatoes, cooked or raw greens, maybe even with some mac’n'cheez for a total southern-style meal. Ugh, I want that. Right now.
BBQ Sauce Non-Recipe
Since I didn’t follow or really record a recipe, I’m just going to make some BBQ sauce flavour suggestions. You can even use a bought sauce if there’s one you really like. It’s all about getting a good sweet/sour/smoky/spicy profile that you enjoy. Mine included:
- apple cider vinegar
- tomato paste/ketchup
- molasses/maple syrup
- liquid smoke/mesquite
- all spice
- chili powder
Cashew Sour Cream
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 1/2 hour
- pinch of salt
- juice of 1/2-1 lemon, depending on size
- 1/2 cup water (enough to blend, can use more depending on blender)
Soak cashews at least 1/2 hour. If you forget to soak them before hand, you can pour some boiling water over them for 10-15 minutes for a cheater-soak. Cheater. Combine all ingredients in high-speed blender, and process slowly until smooth. Seriously. Start slow and work your blender up to high so you don’t blow out the motor/fail entirely. You can add more water/lemon/salt as needed to blend, or as desired for taste. If you’re feeling super fancy, use lime juice, or throw in a pinch of chipotle powder for a lime/chipotle cream. Drizzle on tacos/nachos/your face, as needed.
In conclusion, this is an odd food in a can that I would recommend trying. I’ve heard you may actually be able to find fresh unripened jackfruit in some Asian markets, so have a look for that as well. But keep in mind that ripe jackfruit is way different – sweet and starchy, apparently, where this is fibrous and really has no flavour of it’s own to speak of. It’s all about the texture!
Ok. Your turn. Have you tried jackfruit? Do you ever buy weird foods you’re a bit scared of for kitchen experiments?