Before I became a WFPBNO (Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No Oil) eater and cook, I had absolutely no clue what Jackfruit was. The name alone sounded a bit silly, but finally I tried a BBQ Jackfruit sandwich at a local vegetarian restaurant (before COVID-19 made going out for lunch a memory). Wow. Eye-opener. It was delicious. But, it still took nearly another year before I made an effort to find, buy and prepare Jackfruit myself.
It seems so counter-intuitive that something called a fruit could be a reasonable stand-in for animal protein, but Jackfruit does it, and does it very well. The flavor of the unripe/green Jackfruit is very neutral, with a 'meaty' texture that lends itself to preparations like shredded BBQ. You might also find 'ripe' Jackfruit in the frozen fruit section of your local grocery store. The 'ripe' version is very sweet and floral - perfect for making smoothies and even preserves! But, my focus here is on the unripe or 'green' version.
The fruits are enormous! Grown in tropical regions of the world, it is native to South India. It is part of the Moraceae plant family, which also includes fig, mulberry and breadfruit. The spikey outer skin is just one remarkable aspect of Jackfruit - the other being its unusually large size. A single Jackfruit can grow to be up to 100 lbs!
Here's the really good news about Jackfruit: it's sustainable. Jackfruit is easy to grow, naturally drought and pest-resistant, requires no artificial irrigation, pesticides, or herbicides to thrive. This will become even more important in a warming climate!
Green Jackfruit is readily available in most Asian markets. I buy it at 168 Asian Market here in Reno, Nevada. Of course, if you don't have easy access to Asian markets, you might want to order it online.
If you're going to use green Jackfruit as an animal protein substitute, buy it in 'brine', not in syrup. Upon opening, drain the brine off using a colander. I give the Jackfruit a few gentle tosses, and let it drain for a couple of minutes. Then, I dump it out on a clean kitchen towel (or paper towels) and gently press the chunks to remove excess moisture.
The next step is to 'shred' the chunks. You can use a paring knife or fork, even your fingers. I do use a paring knife to quickly slice up the thicker ends. You don't need to be 'fussy' about any of this. Keep it rough and simple.
My objective today was a BBQ Jackfruit. To this end, I lined up the spices that define BBQ - for me. You might have other ideas about BBQ, especially considering where you might live. Kansans have great BBQ that's nothing like North Carolina BBQ, which isn't anything close to Texas BBQ. If you really want to keep it simple, just use a basic Chili Powder, Onion and Garlic powder, and some Cumin.
I can get really deep in the BBQ 'woods' with my jars of various chile powders! Sometimes, I have a hard time deciding which direction to head in! If this is your 'first rodeo', then don't get 'fancy' with this. Less really can be more.
Do you get confused with the various spellings of Chili ... or is it Chile? Don't feel bad. I also got very confused about this, too. In Mexico, 'Chile' with an 'e' is the accepted spelling. As Americans adopted the spices, the name got Americanized as 'Chili' ... which was adapted from Carne con chili (meat with chili) which later became Chili con carne!. Whatever. Both are right. Let's move on.
You don't need to 'sauté' green Jackfruit, it works great, simply shredded, in soups and stews. However, for this BBQ to work, sautéeing is a necessary first step. I recommend of good non-stick pan. No added oil is ever needed to sauté using the 'wet sauté method'. Learn to wet sauté and you'll never look back. You'll also save a lot of money (and calories) on all that expensive oil.
I sauté the Jackfruit to evaporate even more moisture from the shredded fruit, which lends a more 'meaty' texture.
During the wet sauté, I add my spices: Chili (or Chile), Cumin, Garlic, Onion, Paprika and Smoke Powder. I always keep both Hickory and Mesquite Smoke Powders in my spice cabinet for any time I want that smokey flavor.
You don't need a recipe for this. I'm assuming that you've made 'tuna' salad? Or, better yet, my No-Tuna Salad before? This isn't any different: Protein stand-in + Celery + Onions + my plant-based Vegan No-Oil Mayonnaise. Stir to combine. Pile between to slices of bread.
Chop up your veggie and toss 'em in. If you want to add pickles or caper berries to the party, knock yourself out! A little more BBQ sauce, maybe? Who knows? This can be modified in any number of tasty ways!
The Jackfruit Salad can be served just like this. Keepin' it simple. But, you can jazz it up, too.
I wanted to drizzle a bit of creamy dressing over the salad, so simply combined a bit of bottled BBQ sauce with my Vegan No-Oil Mayonnaise, stir to combine and pour over the salad. Easy. Peasy.
Do I need to mention that my vegan Mayonnaise is a great 'base' for whatever creamy salad dressing you need at the moment? Nah. You probably already knew that.
Here, I've served the Jackfruit salad in a bowl with a heap of my Grated Carrot Salad for a fast lunch. You could just as easily put the Jackfruit salad in a bun or between slices of bread - go all 'old school'.
It's your choice, and whatever you decide, it's gonna be delish!
Hey, if you like or make this dish, would you mind posting the recipe to Yummly? I'd really appreciate that. The Yummly icon is on the right side of this webpage. Oh, and saving to Pinterest would also be great! Each photo should have a Pinterest icon in the upper left corner! Thanks!
This button will take you to PayPal where you can securely pop a bit in the 'tip jar'.