Jackfruit probably doesn't show up as much - if at all - in your meatless meals. It's rarely stocked at grocery stores in Los Angeles unless there's an emphasis on South Asian goods. It's not even consumed as much in countries where they're commonly grown, according to a recent NPR post.
For Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg of vegan food company Spork Foods, jackfruit is too versatile of an ingredient not to keep in the pantry. They stock up on it, buying up to eight cans of young jackfruit at a time. It shows up often in recipes they've developed for their cooking classes and catering menus.
"Jackfruit is primarily used as a meat replacement. Because young jackfruit has a very stretchy, pulled pork consistency or some people refer to it as having a poultry consistency, it's kind of a chameleon," says Engel.
"Jackfruit can be an intimidating ingredient to work with. We're trying to demystify it," says Goldberg.
"There are definitely ways to mess it up, like if you use ripe jackfruit for something that requires young jackfruit," continues Goldberg. "Ripe jackfruit will taste sweet, similar to a pineapple."
So where can you find jackfruit in town? "Most Thai markets will have it. Thai Town is a great spot. There's a market called Silom right near Western and Hollywood," suggests Goldberg.
Engel adds, "Or Indian markets will sometimes have jackfruit in a can as well."
They shared a recipe for peanut ginger jackfruit noodles with crispy shallots that's gluten-free as well, calling for brown rice noodles and tamari in lieu of soy sauce. "With any recipe we're creating, we're also looking at the medicinal qualities and the history," says Engel.
"Tamari has natural probiotics in it. It's similar to yogurt, so it's really good for your digestive tract. It's high in antioxidants, higher than red wine," says Goldberg. "We like people to feel good after a meal. They should feel good and energized."
Peanut ginger jackfruit noodles with crispy shallots
From: Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg
1 can (19-ounce) young green jackfruit, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons organic rice vinegar
1 tablespoon palm sugar or organic evaporated cane sugar
2 tablespoons tamari
2 teapoons fresh ginger, finely grated
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
1 tablespoon neutral tasting high heat oil (safflower)
½ cup organic smooth peanut butter
¼ cup coconut milk, plus about ¼ cup water as needed
¼ cup organic tamari
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons palm sugar or organic evaporated cane sugar
3 tablespoons organic rice vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 package (16-ounce) brown rice spaghetti noodles
¼ cup crispy shallots (hânh phi)
1. Cut each piece jackfruit into 6 pieces and place in a large bowl. Add rice vinegar, sugar, tamari, ginger, garlic powder and chili flakes and toss to coat. Marinate for 10-20 minutes, for best flavor.
2. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat and add oil. Add jackfruit and all marinating liquid. Cook for about 3-5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add noodles and cook according to package, about 7-8 minutes. Strain.
4. While noodles are cooking, in a 4-quart pot, add peanut butter, coconut milk and about ¼ cup water. Whisk until uniform. Add tamari, maple syrup, sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, lime juice, ginger and garlic and whisk. Cook sauce for about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
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5. Toss the warm noodles with the peanut sauce and top with cooked jackfruit and crispy shallots. Serve warm.