Jackfruit is having its day in the limelight! Recently it has started appearing everywhere… burger and steak menus, produce section of grocery stores, food magazine pages, cooking videos… they are everywhere.
The reason for the jackfruit’s sudden popularity is the meat like texture of it when unripe. It provides a great option for vegans as it can be used in place of meat in everything from hotdogs to burgers to pulled pork. As jackfruit has a mild flavor, it is easily adaptable for any recipe.
Jackfruit, the biggest tree fruit of them all, grows in tropical Asia, Africa and South America. In these regions, it is a seasonal fruit most often ripening during the peak summer, just before the rainy season. Jackfruits come in many varieties and some of the bigger ones can grow up to 3 feet long and 20 inches wide.
The part of the fruit that is eaten when ripe is the fleshy pods that hold the seeds. These are arranged around a central core, surrounded by dense fibers protecting the pods.
Jackfruit can be used in any stage of its life. Very young ones are cooked as a vegetable dish, tender seeds and fiber and all, after peeling only the outer thick thorny skin. When it is grown yet unripe, the fleshy parts are cooked, without the seeds and the encasing fiber. When fully ripe, jackfruit is either eaten raw or used to make sweet dishes and preserves. And the seeds, either from ripe or unripe fruits, are cooked as a vegetable as well.
While Jackfruit has a relatively low calorie count, it is richer in micronutrients and phytonutrients than many other fruits. Its seeds and flesh contain more calcium and iron than other tropical fruits and it is a useful source of potassium and B vitamins including B1, B3, B6 and folate. Carotenoids, the pigments that give jackfruit its yellow color, are high in vitamin A.
Jackfruit, ripe and unripe, can sometimes be bought fresh at Asian groceries. It is also available canned, mainly exported from Thailand.
I have chosen a very flavorful recipe as today’s dish as the jackfruit absorbs all the flavor, and produces a delicious alternative to the beef in the original classic recipe from the Burgundy region of France.
Ripe jackfruit is a favorite of elephants… a big fruit for a big animal! Wild elephants, attracted by the smell of ripe jackfruit, sometimes come down to villages to steal the fruit!
- 1 lb unripe canned jackfruit
- 4 rashers of bacon, diced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1½ cup of red wine
- 1 large bay leaf
- A few sprigs of thyme
- 1 cup pearl onions, peeled
- 4 ounces mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, or bella), quartered
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cut the jackfruit it into 2 inch chunks. If using canned jackfruit, drain, cut into large pieces and set aside.
- In a largish pan, cook the bacon until crisp, over medium-low heat. Drain and set aside.
- Heat oil in a largish pot. Add onion and carrot and cook until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add garlic and tomato paste, and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the flour, cook for 1 minute.
- Add the wine, bay leaf and thyme, and deglaze scraping up brown bits at bottom of pot.
- Add the jackfruit and half the cooked bacon. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
- Add the pearl onions and mushrooms to the pot. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Add the remaining bacon. Adjust seasoning and serve hot.