Jackfruit – the meat substitute that's just like pulled pork
When cutting down the amount of meat that you eat, it can feel like you're missing out on that meaty taste and texture that you can only really get with pork or beef.
Enter jackfruit, a tropical fruit that works beautifully as a meat substitute.
What is jackfruit?
Native to India, it’s a large, bulbous tropical fruit with green or yellow bumpy skin that can weigh up to 50kg!
It’s also grown in Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. Because of its size, it’s rare to see a whole jackfruit in stores. Instead, the flesh is usually packed in trays at Asian grocers or you can find them canned on the supermarket shelf. You can find it in two forms, ripe yellow or unripe green jackfruit.
Why is jackfruit a great meat substitute?
When ripe, the flesh is sweet and fruity – almost like pineapple. But unripe, there’s no distinct taste so it has the ability to soak up the flavours you’re cooking with, just like eggplant, tofu or potato would.
The texture is also important. Unripe jackfruit has a stringy texture that looks and feels similar to pulled pork or shredded beef cheeks. This combination of factors makes it the holy grail of meat substitutes. You can flavour the jackfruit with the same spices and flavours you would use for meats, and it has that great meaty texture.
Can you use yellow jackfruit as meat?
No, if you want to use jackfruit in place of meat, you should only buy green or unripe jackfruit. You'll usually find it in cans in brine. Yellow jackfruit has already ripened and is very sweet, juicy and fruity. It's too sweet to use as a meat substitute, but you can enjoy it in desserts or eat it as is.
How do you cook with it?
You can easily separate the flesh of unripe jackfruit with your fingers or shred it with two forks. Then add your seasoning and sauces before sautéing or simmering until it softens. Jackfruit is a great addition to curries as it takes on the flavour of the sauce as it bubbles away.
It also works beautifully in tacos, when shredded and mixed with your favourite spices it's hard to tell the difference between jackfruit and pulled pork. Another advantage of jackfruit is that it's already quite soft, so you don't need to cook it for hours to get that soft, pull-apart texture like you would with real meat.
Check out some easy jackfruit recipes below, including tacos and a curry.
Where can you buy jackfruit?
Jackfruit is more easily available nowadays. Find it in cans in the Asian section of your supermarket or in Asian supermarkets. Look for the words "green", "unripe" or "young" to make sure you're not purchasing the sweet ripe jackfruit.
If you didn't know, you'd think these tacos were full of pulled pork. The rendang curry sauce is packed with flavour, and the pickled vegetables add refreshing crunch.
This curry sauce is a fantastic way to add flavour to jackfruit. It contains fish sauce, so it's not vegetarian but it's great for pescatarians. Keep the jackfruit in chunks or pull it apart for different textures.
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