If you ever thought the world of plant foods might be boring or lacking on the flavor spectrum, you clearly haven’t experienced the Jackfruit yet. It is one fruit to lay all your veggie variety skepticisms to rest. You can tackle this tropical wonder by consuming its “juicy fruit-flavored” meat in the raw, or you can explore various styles of cooked dishes. I’m going to give you the low-down on purchasing and preparing this fruit, as well as a simple and slightly fancier version of the same basic recipe.
You will most likely find Jack at an Asian supermarket or international grocery as it typically comes from Australia and east Asian countries like Thailand, though some are grown in tropical areas of the USA. I like to select a nearly ripe or already ripe fruit. Here’s how you know what’s good:
– If it’s stiff and green, it is far from ripe. Go for a more golden hue.
– Check the seasons for where it was harvested, generally during late spring and early summer are best.
– Should have just a little give to the touch.
– Should smell honey sweet and appealing to your olfactory senses. Moldy spots and fermented smells mean it’s probably turning into jackfruit “liquor.”
– The fruit can be quite large, like, extremely large… So some markets may have them cut up already. In this case the color is easier to discern. Look for a golden yellow meat.
Now. You’ve hauled this beauty home and you’re ready to slice it up. Be forewarned, things are probably going to get a bit messy, but it is also kind of fun. Use a solid chopping knife to cut through its thick hide and divvy up the smaller sections inside. Another fair warning, the stringy pulp and pith can be very sticky like glue, but you’ll get better at keeping clean with practice. If your hands are incapacitated by the “glue” at the end of your labor, some oils or rubbing alcohol usually help me get rid of the substance.
Now you have an abundance of nice hunky fruit flesh pods with a robins’ egg-sized seed in the middle that you can just pop out of each of the sections; don’t discard these seeds! You can shell, boil, and then eat them. They have a flavor and texture that is comparable to cooked fava beans and macadamia nuts.
Simple Jackfruit and Rice.
- Rinse and cook your rice.
- Puree or finely chop jackfruit (otherwise it can taste a little stringy after cooking… not sure why)
- Shell and Boil jackfruit seeds. Optional: chop them for a more even distribution.
- Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and cook through for 5-10 minutes.
*This fruit can be exceptionally sweet, so experiment with your proportions of rice to Jack.
Slightly Fancier Marinated Jackfruit and Jasmine Rice.
- Separate seeds from Jack and chop fruit sections into smaller dices. Marinate overnight in a plum miso reduction or a simple teriyaki sauce.
- Boil seeds until cooked thoroughly (10-20 minutes on high). You can leave the hulls on while they cook and they become easier to peel off after boiling. Chop finely and add to the overnight Jack marinade.
- Rinse rice thoroughly and follow specific directions, but add a few tbsp of miso and slices of fresh ginger root to the pot while it’s cooking.
- Saute Jack marinade for 5-10 minutes, then our over top of Rice bowl to taste.
- Top with fresh scallions, cilantro, and a dash of your favorite spicy (Sriracha, thicker salsas, or red peppers work great).
Alright, there you have it. A carbed-up adventure in a bowl. Go get you some.
And for those who want documentation on the nutrition, Jackfruit is a good source of Vitamins A and C, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, and Potassium!
If you want to get extra nerdy on the science and deets, go here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1541-4337.2012.00210.x/full