Adventures in cooking Jackfruit – vegan ‘pulled pork’.
I’ve never ever had pulled pork, and never will. But there’s a couple of great establishments here in Toronto that do a mean Jackfruit pulled pork – Hot Beans & the Hogtown Vegan – that make my mouth water every time I eat their Jackfruit tacos or pulled pork sandwiches respectively.
I always marvelled at the culinary wizardry involved at taking a strange SE Asian fruit & making it into shredded savoury goodness. I figured it’d be too tough to pull at home, and wasn’t convinced I could have success with an ingredient I had no idea about. I Googled around a bit reading various recipes to get an idea of the process one would go through to create the magic, and also the different mixes of ingredients and flavours.
After a while I settled on this “Carolina Pulled ‘Pork’ Sandwich” recipe – I wasn’t going to make sandwiches, but tacos, but the ‘sandwich’ part of this recipe is more of a serving suggestion – and as a bonus, if you ignore the sandwich part, the recipe is automatically gluten-free. There was a good idea in the notes of what to expect of preparing the jackfruit before it even touched any other ingredients, which I liked. But what I was interested in were the flavours – especially mix of spices in the dry rub and how they’d complement the wet sauce mix – and that it also looked like the finished product was of about the right texture that i’d tried in the Hot Beans tacos. Away I went!
In the end, the process isn’t really that complicated – no more so than prepping a marinated tofu/tempeh dish, say. It’s pretty easy to get the ‘mise en place’ of your spice mix/dry rub and your wet sauce ingredients ready to go and then zoom through the process – it’s really only the cooking times that draw the jackfruit adventure out. Like the write-up on the page says, this is a pretty spicy recipe naturally – I liked it, but I think I would round it out better next time to not have that be so up-front. We just had it in simple corn tortillas with whatever green mix we had, plus some rice, tomatoes & chopped avo (sadly too firm for guacamole-ise). Next time I gotta get my sunflower sour cream action on, too.
Would I make this again? Well, I picked up two more cans of young jackfruit in brine while shopping in Chinatown this weekend, so hell yes! (Two cans because next time i’m making a double batch – we mowed through this in one taco sitting.) I think i’d also like to make a more saucy, possibly more BBQ-y type of pulled jackfruit next time too – perhaps something like Sarah Kramer’s BBQ sauce, but try and cut the richness down a little. Now I know what to expect out of the magical ingredient jackfruit texture/process-wise, the vegan pulled ‘pork’ world is my un-oyster!