Not to toot my own horn, but I don’t have many food fails.
My wife often touts my natural ability to “just make things taste good”, which is great – most of the time – but every so often, something gets away from me. I may happen during a lapse of judgement. I do have a tendency to over-spice my dishes, especially in the early days of the blog, a habit which often rendered meals inedible to all but me. I also have an (semi-frequent) tendency to overshoot the mark. While my screw-ups do happen, they’re so infrequent, that when I mess up, it becomes a memorable event.
In fact, in light of this most recent screw up, my wife was quick to remind me of the last one: my attempt to sell her and our children on the Bon-Appetit Cauliflower Bolognese, which (sorry, BA) I’ll readily admit was fucking TERRIBLE.
Considering all that, you can probably see where this is going.
So, I bought some Jackfruit the other day when I was shopping at Trader Joe’s. It caught my eye when I was looking through the canned goods section, and I remembered that someone at work had told me that you could cook it up like pulled pork or chicken. A quick internet search resulted in a pile of articles and recipes (many from vegan or alternative food blogs) claiming the versatility and delicious nature of Jackfruit.
Pause. If you don’t know what Jackfruit is, it’s probably for at least one of a few potential reasons. The primary reason is that you probably don’t live in the region of India or Malaysia where it’s a native plant. Another good reason is that you’re probably not a vegan, looking for alternative foods that you can convince yourself are just as tasty as meat. The final reason is that – at least in my limited experience – it’s gross.
Listen, I may be way off base. Maybe if I had some nice fresh jackfruit, I’d change my tune. Though I have to say that it’s subtle placement on the corner of a bottom shelf, tucked behind the seaweed, should have been a giveaway for me.
Anyway, I’d heard it was good, and that it could be cooked as a substitute for pulled pork or chicken, making it a low calorie option for a tasty and quick bbq sandwich. So I tried it out.
Here’s what I used:
- 2 20 oz cans of Green Jackfruit in brine
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp chipotle BBQ seasoning (from World Market – a tasty, simple seasoning that works on almost anything)
- 1 cup bbq sauce
- 1 cup water
- hawaiian rolls
- Slaw (made from broccoli slaw and my vinaigrette)
I took some cues from the various jackfruit recipes out there, and made a very simple version of the pulled bbq “pork” with the intention of making a sandwich out of it.
Here were my basic steps:
- Open, drain and rinse the jackfruit, then pat it dry.
- Preheat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
- Lightly pull the jackfruit into smaller pieces, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and the bbq seasoning
- Add the fruit to the heated pan, and saute it in the oil for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the bbq sauce and the water to the pan, and toss it all together to coat the fruit.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove the cover, stir it around, and cook another 5 minutes to allow more of the water to cook off.
- Assemble sandwiches with bbq jackfruit and slaw, and serve.
- Spit it out. Seriously. There’s a video. Head on over to my Instagram.
Let’s go step by step:
Ok – so jackfruit out of the can is weirdly reminiscent of off-color tuna. You can clearly make out the shape of the fruit, the outer flesh and the seed pods. It’s relatively neutral, though it has a sweetness to it that (sorry, but it’s true) I thought was best described as “sickly”; not that it was, oversweet, but that it had that cloying sweetness that I was worried would not go away with cooking or seasoning. For the record, I was right. Anyway, I drained it, rinsed it and dried it.
Then I mushed it up. This also reminded me of tuna, thought he textural differences in the various parts of the fruit were surprising.
And yes, my fingernails are pink. I have twin daughters. Plus they look AMAAAAZINGGGG. You’re welcome.
I sauteed the fruit for about five minutes. After a few minutes, you could see the water staring to cook off, and the sugars start to caramelize in the pan, though it never got to the point of making any meat-like crispy bits promised in some of the blog posts that I read though beforehand. I’m not linking any of them, because I’m not putting anyone on blast for this directly. If you like this stuff it’s your business.
Here’s that World Market seasoning that I like. check it out. It’s pretty tasty.
I added the bbq sauce and water, and gave it good mix. Looks good, right?
I know. The whole seed pods are the most off-putting part.
This is the near-final result, after most of the water had cooked off, and the sauce had really started to stick to the pan. The mixture had retained that sickly sweet smell, which wasn’t helped by the bbq sauce, considering the loads of sugar therein.
I put it all together on a Hawaiian Roll; I figured that a slider with some slaw would be a surefire delivery system for acclimating to a new food. I was wrong. Nothing would have helped.
Like I mentioned before, I may be way off base. I might have picked up the wrong kind, or maybe I got a bad batch. Maybe I cooked it incorrectly. But I just couldn’t get on board. It’s way too sweet, and the texture is simply off-putting. I tried it, so you don;’t have to.
Here’s my recommendation:
If you want a vegan option, go make a salad. Salads are delicious. And if you want some pulled pork, or pulled chicken, go make some pulled pork or pulled chicken. there is no substitute for the real thing.