But then a few years ago, I met jackfruit and it kind of changed everything. Jackfruit as I know it, comes in a can packed in water or brine and it's very easy to use in cooking provided you've got an awesome sauce to cook it with. (It's also at times very hard to come by, depending on where you live. Asian markets are usually my go to, but without a big one up in Sudbury for example, it's only ever found packed in syrup which is a completely different product all together and not useful for savoury purposes.)
Fresh jackfruit, by contrast, is a monstrosity of a fruit that is big enough for two people to carry. To slice it is a thing of wonder and the fruit isn't so much juicy, as it is gummy with a thick, sticky, glue-like substance. I had the chance to try a piece of it fresh when in Austin at VVC while the lovely folks from Upton's were sampling it and it was really interesting to taste. It actually tastes - I kid you not - exactly like Juicy Fruit chewing gum! Strange but kind of good too?
The sauce itself is so simple to make: add everything together and simmer it up for 20 minutes. It's got a real bite to it, thanks to the apple cider vinegar, a little sweetness from the tomatoes and molasses and just a little spice from the addition of Sriracha. Then it's just a matter of cooking the jackfruit in the sauce over low heat, to really infuse it with the delicious flavours. This is easy summer cooking at it's finest.
I kept ours on the mild side in case the little person in the house was feeling open to trying it (spoiler alert: he wasn't), so in the future I'll definitely add more for our heat-loving tastebuds. I imagine this BBQ sauce would also be amazing on tofu, so I think that's what I'll be doing with the leftovers.
Homemade BBQ Sauce
makes about 250ml
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup pureed tomato passata
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Sriracha (or more to taste)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
juice of 1/2 a lime
1. Heat the oil and minced garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir well. Bring the mixture to a slow simmer, reduce heat slightly and cook over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes until thickened. Use immediately or cool and store in a jar in the fridge for up to a week (or maybe more).
BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Sandwiches
1 tsp olive oil
1 20oz can young green jackfruit (packed in water or brine)
1/2 cup Homemade BBQ Sauce
4 soft buns or dinner rolls
1 1/2 cup shredded green or savoy cabbage
1 carrot, grated
1 green onion, sliced
juice of 1/2 a lime
pinch of fine sea salt
1. Drain and rinse the jackfruit in a colander. Using your hands, break up the pieces - the jackfruit is quite fibrous and will pull apart into shreds quite easily. For the bits that don't shred, you can leave them whole or slice them into smaller bits if you prefer with a knife.
2. Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat and add the jackfruit, allowing it to sizzle in the oil for a minute. Add in the BBQ sauce, stir to coat and reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10-15 minutes. (Or more, up to half an hour, over low heat if you have the time!)
3. Meanwhile, while the jackfruit is cooking, combine the cabbage, carrot, green onion and lime juice in a bowl. Toss to combine. Sprinkle with a pinch (or two!) of sea salt and toss again.
4. Slice the buns. Pile on the hot BBQ jackfruit, top with a generous helping of cabbage slaw, spread a thick layer of vegan mayo on the top of the bun, top the sandwich and serve.
Notes: I think the quality of the apple cider vinegar will really make a difference in the final taste of the BBQ sauce. I like to use an organic, unpasteurized vinegar (Filsinger's) but Bragg's also makes a good one and I'm sure there are other brands out there too. For the tomatoes, I buy jarred strained tomatoes which is more concentrated than simply using canned tomatoes.
If you try the BBQ sauce or Pulled Jackfruit sandwiches for yourself, I'd love to see the results, so tag me @jessicalaurennadel or #cupcakesandkale on Instagram!