Vegan Mofo 2014: Day 15: Meaty Meatless Monday: Jackfruit Tutorial

Hey all!

Today for Meaty Meatless Monday I want to do a bit of a tutorial/guide to cooking with Jackfruit rather than sharing a specific recipe (although I will definitely share some of my favorite recipes for it).

For those of you that don’t know, Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that is popular in regions of Asia, that happens to be, when in the right form, a fantastic faux meat substitute for vegans in terms of it’s texture. It can be used in vegan pulled pork type recipes, bbq, as a crab or tuna substitute, even in a recipe for Philly Cheese Steak, to name a few! It is rich in iron as a half cup has 25% iron, but otherwise has fairly neutral nutritional value. It is similar to tofu in that it can take on whatever flavors you cook it with, with a bit more of tangy, even sweetly sour taste.

I jumped on the jackfruit wagon as soon as I could find a way to get some, and at first that meant purchasing it from Vegan Essentials’ online store. You can find a link to the actual jackfruit here. However, since every vegan I knew in my small state had said they couldn’t find it locally, I at first did not question them, and assumed the Asian Markets had been checked thoroughly since people had said they had looked there. Well, one day I decided to question that and see for myself. And low and behold, The Chinese American Mini Market in Cranston, RI had a big shelf of them, and they were less expensive than Vegan Essentials at $1.35 a can, as well as no shipping costs were needed. Hurray!

Another mistake I see people making is that there are two different types (maybe more, I don’t know) of Jackfruit. One is a sweeter, more fruit-like kind. It typically (if referring to Chaokoh brand which is the most commonly found canned brand) comes in a yellow container, like so:

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This can still be used for other types of recipes, but won’t work if you want to make a shredded meat-like recipe. Notice that the can also says it is in syrup.

Instead, you want to buy young green jackfruit in brine (or water if you find other brands).  I am assuming based on the differences between the two, that this form is not as developed as the other, maybe even not quite ripe yet. Here is a picture of what you are looking for:

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To make it easier to remember though, I made some handy graphics to keep in mind when looking for the meaty type of jackfruit:

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When preparing the jackfruit, you typically want to drain and rinse it before using. The easiest and best way I have found to shred it is to pulse it a few times in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, then it’s a good idea to simply follow the instructions the recipe usually includes that asks you to shred it with a fork, either before or after it is cooked.

Now, on to the recipes!

In books, my favorite recipes using jackfruit are from Bake and Destroy by Natalie Slater. She has a recipe for yummy bbq’d jackfruit in the crockpot (which I believe is called Cannibal Corpse Crock Pot) that she also uses on top of a yummy kale salad. She also has a recipe for a sweet potato and walnut jackfruit hash (which she calls “You Don’t Know Jack Hash”) which I absolutely loved. Check her and her book out!

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The jackfruit salad from Bake and Destroy

The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life by Melisser Elliott also has a really great vegan carnitas taco recipe in it.

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The jackfruit carnitas tacos

As far as websites go, here are my favorite, tried and true jackfruit recipes:

The V-Word (a fellow Mofo-er) has a mind blowing recipe for Vegan Philly Cheesesteak.

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Vegan Philly Jackfruit Cheesesteak!

Finally, one of my absolute favorite non-tuna salad sandwich recipes can be found here. It is amazing, and unfortunately gets gobbled up so fast every time I make it that I don’t have any pictures. It was a big hit by itself (without the melt part) at Girls Rock this past Summer amongst the volunteers!

And how could I forget? My very own Jackfruit Chick’un Noodle Soup!

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So, in conclusion, do not be afraid to try jackfruit. It’s really fun to use and delicious, and there are many recipes you can find. I hope this settles some of the confusion you might have had if you are a jackfruit newbie looking to find it and don’t know much about it, as well.

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Foodie (Photo) Friday #6-Philly Cheese Jackfruit Steak, Jalapeno Poppers, and Garden Vegetable Bechamel Lasagna

Well, well, well. It’s another edition of Foodie (Photo) Friday! I’m having some technological difficulties so the photos will be larger than normal, because when I try to resize them within wordpress I am getting a blank screen.

I have some good ones to share with you this week! I also just started the process of making some cupcakes for my birthday weekend, but those aren’t photo-ready yet.

First off, is this amazing Philly Jackfruit Cheesesteak sandwich from the “V” word blog. Recipe here. Image

This recipe really had a “wow” factor. I’m now officially in love with jackfruit after seeing how versatile it is! I may have possibly had a cheesesteak once or twice as a non-vegan, but it never was much of my thing anyhow. But now that I am a vegan this was a fun thing to make, and it was delicious in it’s own unique way. The spices were spot on I thought, I would not even know what spices to use to recreate this dish were I the one creating the recipe. The onions are also perfect. I think I cooked it all for a bit less time than suggested because I do not like too strong of a blackened flavor, and perhaps my stove gets too hot, but the steps worked out great to get a really crisp yet chewy texture out of the onions and jackfruit. I will definitely be making this again when I have more cans of jackfruit. I only made two servings because I wanted to only use one of my two cans. Oh well…

ImageI definitely give this recipe:

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The Jalapeno Poppers were from the cookbook The 30 Minute Vegan.

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They were supposed to be a healthier version of the classic snackfood/appetizer. I am not sure how unhealthy typical poppers are nutritionally, but after calculating the calories and other information for these, I wasn’t all that impressed really with the numbers. But I wanted them so I ate them anyways. These are baked, not fried. They certainly fulfill any craving you may have for this sort of food. I had never worked with 10 jalapenos at a time though, and scooping out the seeds and veins with a serrated knife was not exactly easy. I kept breathing in some of the fumes and gagging/coughing/sneezing. So if you make these, remember to use caution with the peppers haha. The coolest part of these is the way you attach the bread crumbs to the outside of the pepper so it can stick when baked. You coat them in a mixture of tahini, soy sauce, and water. It works amazingly. However, for the cheese filling, I highly recommend you use at least 2 tbsp of vegan cream cheese to help the cheese and spice mixture meld together more easily inside the peppers. Otherwise the daiya falls out really easily. I didn’t add the red onion to the cheese mixture because it sounded weird, but oh well.

I rate this recipe:

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It was really good but had some flaws.

Finally, the Garden Vegetable Bechamel Lasagna. Oh.My.Gosh.

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This was delicious. I first made the tofu herb ricotta. I tasted it and could barely stop myself from eating it all before I even made the lasagna. I was really skeptical of the idea of including butternut squash in this. I usually hate butternut squash, but had never tried it roasted, so I did that. I tried a piece of just the squash when it was finished roasting, and I actually liked it! So that’s a plus for this recipe: discovering how I like butternut squash cooked!

There are also caramelized onions, garlicky spinach, daiya cheese, the bechamel sauce, and nutritional yeast, along with the lasagna noodles of course. This took me a long time to make. So many dishes were used. I would recommend this dish for when you really want to impress someone, and not as an everyday dish, because it’s so elaborately time consuming. It is totally worth every bite, however. I had trouble fitting all three layers that you were supposed to do into the dish, so I just made two layers which worked out fine. I wouldn’t have had enough stuff to make a third layer, and even then, it was towering over the dish.

This is so deserving of a 5 good banana rating.

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That’s all for today! Stay tuned next friday to see what I cooked up!