If you're not familiar with jackfruit, it's this stringy fruit that resembles pulled pork or carnitas in both taste (if it's seasoned well) and texture. Vegans use the unripe jackfruit flesh for savory dishes, so even though it's a fruit, it's not sweet. Of course, people all over the world eat the ripe, sweet fruit, too. But for vegan purposes, we're talking about the not-so-sweet, unripe fruit.
You can buy whole jackfruit in Asian markets, but they're HUGE. And it looks like it would take an experienced jackfruit butcher (did I just coin a new term??) to hack into it. I typically buy plain already-chopped jackfruit packed in brine in a can. And then I season it with whatever sauce I'm using and slow-cook it until tender.
But Upton's Naturals has done all the work for you! These two new jackfruit meal starters are so freakin' handy. You just open the package, heat in a skillet, and serve. They sent me two packages to try and review, and I absolutely love them both.
I used the Chili-Lime Carinitas Jackfruit to make the first tacos I've eaten since Vida Vegan Con in Austin last May. And boy did I miss tacos! These were so very good.
The jackfruit has a strong lime flavor and a mild hint of chili. Think taco meat with taco seasoning in it but with added lime. I sauteed it with some hot peppers to step up the heat. And then I topped with an easy slaw made with shredded cabbage, rice vinegar, olive oil, diced chiles, salt, and pepper. That's topped with spicy guacamole and Yellowbird Jalapeno Sauce. Since every component was spicy, these tacos made my nose run a bit. But that's the way I like it. Spice-aphobes can have a totally mild taco with this jackfruit if they don't add any spice.
Tonight, I used the Bar-B-Que Jackfruit to make a classic 'cue sandwich with coleslaw on a whole wheat bun.
This jackfruit was my favorite of the two, but that's only because I'm a Memphis girl through and through, and I love me some barbecue. The jackfruit comes coated in a vinegar-heavy sauce, and I like mine just a tad sweeter. So I added a tablespoon of Muddy Pond Bold Barbecue Sauce, a regionally made sauce that gets its sweetness from Southern sorghum. For the slaw, I just mixed some shredded cabbage with Just Mayo, salt, and pepper.
With both of these starters, dinner was on the table in 15 minutes. And that's only because I had to mix up some coleslaw. I'm so glad Upton's has made jackfruit easier and more approachable! Now, I just hope my local Whole Foods will start carrying it!