Have you heard of jackfruit?
A few weeks ago, a coworker and I went to lunch at a vegetarian cafe.
I ordered a salad with tofu, and she braved something called “jackfruit tacos”. Neither of us are vegetarians.
Fruit tacos?, I thought. What kind of hippy nonsense is this? Then I sampled those jackfruit tacos. They had a flavor similar to pulled pork, were seasoned to perfection, and tasted delicious in their own right.
I wanted to learn more about this mysterious fruit that tasted nothing of the sort. A little research revealed jackfruit has become a whole thing, with some restaurants specifically dedicated to the delicacy.
WTF is jackfruit, and why is it so trendy right now?
According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, jackfruit is a tropical fruit native to India.
“It is known to be the largest edible fruit in the world. Jackfruit is rich in nutrients including carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Both the seeds and the flesh of jackfruit are consumed as curries and boiled forms, while the flesh in fully ripen stage can be eaten directly as a fruit.”
Nutrition Coach Lillie Lemon has noticed the recent surge in the popularity of jackfruit.
She said that while she used to see jackfruit only in small, Asian markets, now she also finds it at more mainstream stores.
“I think the fruit is popular in cooking because it makes a wonderful substitute for meat. The threaded texture of the fruit is similar to pulled pork, and the flavor is mild and will absorb seasonings readily,” Lemon said, and added that jackfruit is also low in fat and calories, high in vitamins and full of amino acids.
How do you prepare jackfruit?
Lemon personally loves to prepare jackfruit one of two ways: by slow cooking it in the crockpot like pulled pork, and adding homemade barbecue sauce, or by making spicy vegan adobe tacos.
For a quick and easy jackfruit snack, Lemon suggested picking up a canned version at a local Asian market.
“Simply rinse the jackfruit, chop it up, and throw it in a pan with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and fresh onion or garlic. Let it cook until the water mostly cooks off and you’ll have an easy, healthy snack,” she explained.
For a whole menu of options, restaurants like Jackfruit Cafe have us covered.
Angela Means founded Los Angeles-based Vegan restaurant Jackfruit Cafe based on “pure instincts”.
She said a customer asked about jackfruit at the juice bar where she was operations manager.
“I had no idea what jackfruit was, but my soul knew I’d found my alternative meat and (I) birthed Jackfruit Cafe in that moment which would come to fruition (no pun) two years later,” Means explained.
She said jackfruit isn’t just an alternative to meat, but another option instead of “fake” meat. Her favorite way to serve jackfruit is seasoned, battered, then deep-fried, with dipping sauce.
“Firstly, when it’s properly cooked and seasoned it’s delicious. Secondly, one tree will yield two tons of meat. Everyone will be aware of it sooner than later,” Means added.
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