Sat night I was in a quandary….I wanted to eat something different, try something new, delight my tastebuds…but I didn’t know what to cook. And then, I remembered seeing a lot of posts across FB and other places talking about this vegan pulled ‘pork’.
I’d looked at it a couple of times and couldn’t figure out whether it grossed me out, whether it was just too weird for me, or whether I really fancied it….
I’d seen jackfruits in Thailand and Malaysia many years ago as a Jackfruit and they were ugly. Ugly and massive. And in my head, they were acquainted closely with the raucous smelling durian fruit and therefore about as appealing.
But feeds kept on popping up about how jackfruit was a winner…and so I thought, what the hell, nothing to lose and if I hate it…I won’t eat it again.
A couple of things to be clear about though; I have no idea if this tastes anything like pork and quite frankly I’d prefer it didn’t, I have no idea how it compares in terms of mouth ‘feel’ as I haven’t eaten pork since I was 14 and I can only assume that pulled ‘pork’ is the gimmicky way of trying to make people curious about it as really, its not pork and shouldn’t be compared to it. It should stand on its own as a glorious and delicious plant based option; healthier than pork, better for the environment than pork and way better for the pigs than pork…
I loosely followed this recipe on the Minimalist Baker but have included it here as I basically used my own interpretation of it with a few twists.
So here is where I started, two tins of young green jackfruit in brine. I washed them, rinsed them, and left them standing in fresh water for few hours as the recipe was quite specific that they shouldn’t be in brine (which mine were) as the recipe is too salty.
They looked weird – like a combo of pineapple and silken tofu. But, not letting prejudices get in the way I continued, ignoring that my stomach really wasn’t convinced at this stage.
First up, whilst these were soaking, I made my own BBQ sauce. The BBQ sauce is really the key flavour component to this recipes as the jackfruit seems to absorb whatever flavour you throw at it.
Jac’s Special BBQ Sauce:
- Blend the following ingredients :4 ripe tomatoes (chopped up fairly loosely – no need to be picky), teaspoon liquid smoke, teaspoon paprika, teaspoon cumin, tablespoon sriracha sauce, pinch chilli powder, half teaspoon himalayan pink (or table) salt, cracked black pepper, pinch white pepper, 7 dates, 1 peeled garlic clove, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons tamari, 1 tablespoon tomato puree and half cup water.
- Taste – add more of anything you want. If you want it spicer…more chill…etc etc
- Its not a dark BBQ sauce – more of a spicy smoky tomato influenced BBQ sauce!
- Finally, add 1 tablespoon tapioca or potato starch (or cornflour) as the thickener to it. Blend again and then remove and place in a saucepan.
- Simmer on a low heat for about 20-30 minutes so that the starch activates and the sauce thickens.
- Put into jar and leave to cool with the lid off until ready to use.
So – once the BBQ sauce was created and I was happy with the flavours…I moved onto the crazy fruit.
First up, make the BBQ seasoning, which is also used in the recipe along with the sauce. The BBQ seasoning is all the Minimalist Baker’s and not mine…
- 1/4 cup BBQ seasoning (2 Tbsp brown sugar + 1 tsp paprika + 1 tsp garlic powder + 1/2 tsp salt + 1/2 tsp pepper + 1/2 tsp chili powder)
Create this and toss it over your now drained jackfruit. It should coat it thoroughly until it resembles something like this image. Still looks a bit weird huh?
Then, in a frying pan, put some oil (I used peanut) to heat and then toss in the coated jackfruit to cook for about 5 minutes to give it some colour and to start breaking it down.
After 5 minutes, add in the BBQ sauce (3/4 cup of it) to the fruit and stir it through. Add a little water too – maybe 1/4 cup – as it will simmer down and reduce. Keep this going on a low heat for about 20 -30 minutes. You’ll notice, about 15 mins in, that it starts to do this….
It starts to break down and become stringy, for want of a better word. It looks a little like those amazing little stringy mushrooms you can buy. And it keeps going and keeps going. You can use a fork and push it and it will break down into these strings…basically until the whole dish is like this and the fruit has disintegrated into this stringy amazing mess. That’s when you know its done…which is also handy when you have never cooked it before.
I admit, curious as I was, I was still a little unsure at this point. Would this strange fruit live up to the internet’s lauding of it…I wasn’t convinced.
To accompany it I made a simple avocado, sweetcorn, tomato salsa (with coriander, spring onion, celery and garlic) and I also served it on top of mini pita breads. Here’s one without the topping on it so you can see clearly how it finished up.
And the verdict? Amazing. Really really really tasty. All of my expectations were smashed and it was really fantastic. I had it the night after with an asian coleslaw and coconut chips and I am having it tonight with a stirfry. It’s really versatile, super low in fat, high in iron, easy to prepare and yum. Really yum.
I am so pleased I ignored all my reservations and just went for it, something that’s so true in life generally. Often things are better than you expect, and this was exactly one of those moments.
Here’s to the jackfruit. Long may it reign.