Yep. I said it. Jackfruit! The intimidating massive fruit you probably have seen if you have wondered through parts of South America, Island jungles, or your local Asian market. It’s one of the largest fruits on the planet and can reach up to 50 pounds! Crazy. I first tried this fruit when I lived in Maui many years ago, and before eating it, I was instructed to lather up my hands with oil or wear gloves to eat it due to the wildly sticky sap that is released around the skin when fully ripe and sliced. Best way to describe the taste of the ripe fruit would be to say that it is similar to juicy fruit gum.
I have heard that when cooked unripe and green, it is a very versatile ingredient in more savory dishes. I had to get my hands on some, so I ventured to the local Asian market and cleared the shelves of the canned and the fresh unripe jackfruit they had in stock. I was on a mission. When you work with the unripe fruit, it has a very stringy texture to it, very similar to a traditional shredded carnitas. I spent all night making several batches to test out, and was so happy with the results. The jackfruit carnitas were born. It is amazing in tacos, and you can heat up the leftovers and toss in a taco salad.
Make sure that if you use the canned product, get the kind that is in saltwater brine (there are many on the market that have some funky ingredients). Below are a few brands that you might find at your local Asian market. If you are feeling courageous, you can seek out the fresh one as well, which is preferred, but be prepared for much more prep. I never use canned food, but this ingredient in the can worked well. Be sure to make a big batch, leftovers definitely wont go to waste!
When I have made tempeh tacos in the past, I have used a dry rub and braising liquid in the process, similar to most traditional carnitas recipes. I took this familiar approach to this recipe as well. Using a very spicy dry rub and allowing it to sit gets the most flavor out of the jackfruit, then slowly braising it in a mix of citrus, herbs, spice and stock until most of the liquid is dissolved. Be sure to serve it with your favorite hot sauce, and guacamole. The best picnic food!
2 can green jackfruit, rinsed well (you can purchase green jackfruit in most Asian, or Indian markets, make sure it is only in water, or brine) – or can also use cubed tofu (1 ½ block), cubed tempeh (1 ½ packs) , chopped hearts of palm, or artichoke hearts
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon chipotle powder
½ teaspoon onion granules
¼ teaspoon coriander powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
3 cloves garlic minced
½ teaspoon black pepper
Sea salt to taste
2 ½ tablespoons olive oil (can also just use veggie stock instead)
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup vegetable stock, low sodium
1 ½ teaspoon oregano, fresh minced
¼ cup orange juice
1 lime juiced
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 bay leaf
1 chiplote chile, in adobo sauce, minced
Sea salt to taste
Your favorite salsa
Strain and rinse the jackfruit well. Place in mixing bowl.
Add the chipotle, paprika, onion powder, coriander, cinnamon, garlic, and black pepper on the jackfruit, and shred pieces roughly while mixing. I prefer to allow this to sit and absorb the spices for at least an hour to overnight before cooking. Don’t worry about the small seeds, they will cook down and soften if you leave them in.
In small Dutch oven, or shallow pot, bring to medium heat. Add the oil, and diced onions and stir until caramelized. Add the jackfruit, and stir for a couple minutes until it begins to stick.
Continuing on medium heat, add in the stock, orange, lime, maple, chipotle, and sea salt. Bring to a simmer, (while this is simmering, break up the jackfruit by using a potato masher or a fork) then put on low-medium heat. Put on lid and continue to cook for 20 minutes, opening lid frequently to stir and break up larger pieces of jackfruit, ensuring it does not stick. Cook until all liquid has evaporated, stirring continuously. This is the sign that its done and ready to eat!
Once jackfruit is cooked serve on a tortilla, and top with avocado, your favorite hot salsa, and cilantro.
Try it out and let me know your favorite variations!