A new take on pulled pork popping up on menus everywhere is amazingly meatless yet just as flavorful. BBQ jackfruit pulled pork makes the perfect sandwich or taco filling. With a chewy, meaty texture that shreds perfectly, there’s no need for meat with jackfruit.
Jackfruit may be a new food trend in the U.S., but in Southeast Asia and India, jackfruit has been enjoyed for centuries. In its native regions, jackfruit has been eaten on its own, in desserts, and in curries. Specifically, unripe young jackfruit, is used in savory dishes after being cooked so its chewy texture can be enjoyed as a meat substitute.
Jackfruit peaks in late spring and summer in Asia where it grows abundantly. You can find canned jackfruit year round though and whole jackfruit may even be available still in its off-season.
Where To Buy Jackfruit
Jackfruit can be found both in its whole form or in cans in Asian markets. A whole jackfruit is usually priced per pound and ranges in weight anywhere from five to 30 pounds. Fresh jackfruit costs around one dollar per pound. Jackfruit can also be found in the canned goods aisle packed in syrup, brine, or less commonly found, water. Canned jackfruit costs around one dollar per can.
Canned Jackfruit vs Fresh Jackfruit
For jackfruit pulled pork, you’ll want jackfruit in brine or water. Jackfruit in syrup should only be used if being eaten as dessert as it will not work for jackfruit pulled pork. Some vegan chefs swear by jackfruit in water but jackfruit in brine will produce similar results, the brine being a bit more flavorful.
The difference between fresh jackfruit and canned jackfruit is the canned jackfruit is an unripe “young jackfruit.” Young jackfruit has a meaty texture while fresh ripe jackfruit is more tender and sweet. If you plan to use fresh jackfruit, be sure to buy an unripe one. You can tell it is not yet ripe by checking that it isn’t fragrant and is still firm.
How To Cut Jackfruit
Canned jackfruit is easy to cut and will be mostly mess-free. Simply drain and rinse the jackfruit and transfer to a cutting board. Cut the core, which will be the dense part and discard. Pull apart the jackfruit so a shredded consistency is achieved and place into a bowl.
If you are using fresh jackfruit, you will need to buy an unripe one for this jackfruit pulled pork recipe with barbecue sauce. Be prepared to deal with a lot of stickiness and cleanup after cutting fresh jackfruit. Jackfruit contains a sticky “latex” sap that adheres itself to knives and hands during the cutting process.
Image of jackfruit via Shutterstock
Line countertop with towels or plastic wrap for easy clean up and wear a pair of gloves. Rinse jackfruit and place on a large cutting board. Coat a large chef’s knife with coconut oil. Cut jackfruit into large rounds. Coat the knife in more oil if necessary.
Brush the jackfruit slices with coconut oil. Cut out the white core in the center of each slice and discard. Once the core is removed, the edible, fleshy pod will be exposed. Remove each pod and pull off any white stringy pieces covering it until the pod is fully exposed. Place the pods into a large bowl.
Next, you’ll need to remove the seeds from each pod. Simply tear or cut each pod in half and remove the jackfruit seed. Jackfruit seeds are edible once cooked so you can reserve these and save for later use.
Once all the seeds are removed, the jackfruit is ready for cooking.
BBQ Jackfruit Pulled Pork Recipe
The Ultimate BBQ Jackfruit Pulled Pork Recipe
BBQ jackfruit pulled pork makes the perfect sandwich or taco filling. With a chewy, meaty texture that shreds perfectly, there’s no need for meat with jackfruit.
- For the jackfruit:
- 2 ½ cups young jackfruit
- For the barbecue sauce:
- 2 cups tomato puree
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Dash of liquid smoke
- To make the barbecue sauce, add 2 teaspoons olive oil to a saucepan and heat over medium-low. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add tomato puree, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, molasses, sea salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, pepper, and cayenne. Whisk until well combined.
- Raise heat to high and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Drain and rinse jackfruit if using canned. Place jackfruit on a cutting board and cut out the core. Using your fingers or two forks, shred the jackfruit into a bowl.
- Add barbecue sauce to the bowl of jackfruit and stir. Stir until jackfruit is completely coated.
- Cover and place in the fridge to marinate for 1 hour.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon safflower oil. Add jackfruit and cook for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
- Serve BBQ jackfruit pulled pork on a bun with desired toppings. Enjoy!
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Images via Karissa Bowers