A prickly green fruit might not be the most obvious replacement for pulled pork – but that’s exactly what vegans in the know have been cooking with. Jackfruit is the largest tree fruit in the world – it can grow up to a metre in length and weigh as much as 45kg – has a firm texture and, when ripe, smells and tastes like a mash up between mango, pineapple and banana. When jackfruit is young and under-ripe, however, the flesh actually ‘pulls’ like slow-cooked meat, and its mild flavour is the perfect vehicle for spicy sauces and marinades. Plus, it’s gluten- and soya-free unlike many meat substitutes – and is reputedly a good source of fibre, vitamins A and C, and potassium, and is rich in antioxidants.
Jackfruit grows in tropical climates such as Thailand (try our best Thai recipes here), southern India and Bangladesh (where it’s the national fruit) but due to its size and the amount of preparation required to get to the edible fruit inside, you’re most likely to find them over here pre-prepared and portioned or tinned in brine. The sticky sap, core, fibrous dividers and giant pips are all discarded, leaving meaty, fleshy pods behind.
Buy jackfruit online or in Asian grocers and try out our recipe below. And, if you’ve any questions or tips of your own on how to cook with jackfruit, why not join and contribute to our new community-focussed olive magazine recipes group on Facebook.
TRY THE JACKFRUIT TREND YOURSELF…
The supermarkets are responding to the nation’s growing appetite for more fruit and veg in their diets, and Sainsbury’s new flexitarian-friendly range was the first to sell pulled jackfruit, as of January this year. Sold with a sweet and smoky BBQ sauce, it works brilliantly in tacos. £3/350g; sainsburys.co.uk
This Birmingham start-up reckons jackfruit tastes great in rice dishes, burritos, burgers, nachos, jacket potatoes, pizzas and noodles – and you can buy its ready-pulled and flavoured jackfruits (all-American BBQ, tomato curry and Caribbean Jerkpocalypse). £4.99/300g at projectjackfruit.com
This street-food star has been serving a jackfruit tikka masala to great acclaim at KERB market in Camden. The jackfruit is marinated then roasted, before being served in a creamy tomato masala sauce made with cashew-nut cream and peppers. kerbfood.com/traders/spice-box
Our favourite Bombay café chain (with branches across London, one in Edinburgh and another rumoured to be opening soon in Manchester) serves a jackfruit biryani with saffron rice, mint, coriander and sultanas. dishoom.com
prepared fresh or tinned brined jackfruit 400g
burger buns 4,
halved and toasted
peeled, cored and shredded
red cabbage ¼,
soft brown sugar 2 tsp
coriander ½ a small bunch,
tomato ketchup 150ml
soy sauce 4 tbsp
soft brown sugar 4 tbsp
ginger a thumb-sized piece,
garlic powder 2 tsp
apple cider vinegar 4 tbsp
cayenne pepper ½ tsp
Break the jackfruit into pieces (if you’re using tinned, drain and rinse well) and put in a pan with the cider and enough water to cover the fruit. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30-35 minutes or until all of the liquid has evaporated and the jackfruit is tender. Shred into strands using two forks.
Mix together the slaw ingredients with some seasoning and leave to marinate for 20 minutes, stirring once.
Meanwhile, put all the BBQ sauce ingredients in a small pan and heat gently. Once simmering, remove from the heat.
Stir ¾ of the BBQ sauce through the pulled jackfruit and gently reheat. Pile some on to the base of a bun, top with slaw and serve with extra BBQ sauce for dunking.