I’ll be honest. As a die-hard carnivore, whenever I hear people rave about meat substitutes being as good as the real thing I laugh on the inside. I’ve had faux chicken, beef, pork, and fish several times…and I was consistently unimpressed. You can mask tofu in as much seasoning as you want, it’s still never gonna find its way into my salad or burrito. It’s not that I’m close-minded and intentionally want to reject meat substitutes, I just haven’t encountered any that knocked my socks off. Until I discovered jackfruit.
Yes, jackfruit. You’ve seen them in your local farmers market or Whole Foods. They are these giant green, bumpy melon-like things that most people are unfamiliar with. Native to southwest India, these exotic fruits are fairly bland in flavor, and have the texture similar to artichoke hearts. Once cooked, they become even more tender–yes, like real meat. After biting into one of these juicy tacos, my mind literally exploded! As I scarfed one down after another and spooned mouthfuls of the seasoned shredded “meat” right out the pan and into my mouth, I started thinking of all the different meals I could make with this stuff. Enchiladas, pulled “pork” sandwiches, lasagna, gyros, cheesesteaks, egg rolls, empanadas, casserole–EVERYTHING!!
I recommend using jackfruit from the can. I haven’t yet attempted a recipe using the fruit from a freshly cracked jackfruit, and other recipes that I glanced at online also used the canned jackfruit that comes in a brine. I got mine from Trader Joe’s, but you can find it at most grocery stores.
Oh, and if you like onion, PLEASEEEEE consider making a batch of pickled red onion for these babies!! It gives them a milder, sweet/tangy flavor that is the perfect accent to any dish–especially tacos, sandwiches and flatbread pizzas. It’s super simple to make and really elevates this dish flavor wise. Pickling is one of those techniques that takes a bit of time, so I recommend making them ahead of time. If you slice the onions thin enough you can get a decently pickled onion in about two hours, but they are pickled to perfection after 24 hours or more. They are good on just about everything, so making a decent sized batch will last you about a week or so!