Jackfruit: The Vegetable Meat and Native Food’s New “BBQ Jackelope Sandwich”

I dropped by Native Foods today for lunch and imagine my surprise when I saw a new menu item, The BBQ Jackelope Sandwich! (I was also dismayed to see that it replaced my current favorite, the Bistro Steak Sandwich, but that’s another story). The new Jackelope Sandwich is made from slow cooked jackfruit, smothered with smokehouse BBQ sauce and topped with Asian salad.

jackfruit

What? You’ve never heard of jackfruit? Well, you’re in for a treat. A healthy, all natural, vegan treat!

The jackfruit grows in tropical locales on tall, evergreen trees. Pricky and green in its unripened state, which is when it is perfect to use as a meat substitute (it is yellow and sweet when ripe). It is cultivated in India, Ceylon, southern China, Thailand, and other countries with hot, humid climates.

Jackfruit

The jackfruit is not cultivated much in the United States, and though attempts have been made in Florida and Hawaii, it is rare to see a jackfruit tree in this country.

jackfruit

But, how does it taste? The unripened jackfruit has a taste and consistency similar to chicken when it is cooked. It can be shredded or cut into chunks, and can be slow cooked for extra flavor. Because of its cultivation in Asian countries, it is frequently used in curries. The one other time I ate jackfruit was at the Bohdi Tree, a vegan Asian restaurant in Huntington Beach.

The jackfruit is nutrient rich, especially in vitamins C and B complex. It has small amounts of vitamin A, plus potassium, magnesium, manganese, and iron. It is also high in dietary fiber.

So you don’t have a jackfruit tree in your backyard? No worries. In this country, jackfruit is most frequently available in cans and is sold at Asian and Caribbean markets. Because of it’s moderate popularity, I’m not sure if it is available at supermarkets like Whole Foods.Β  There are a few online sources, including Amazon.com. Make sure to look for unripe (or young) jackfruit in brine.

Recipes? I’m sorry to say that I have never cooked with jackfruit (yet!). I have done my research for you though. Here is a video from Melisser Elliot from Everyday Dish TV with her Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos.

Here are two recipes from Clean Green Simple, Carolina Pulled “Pork” Sandwich, and Jessica’s version of the Jackfruit Carnitas.

Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! has a recipe for Carnitas sandwiches (Cadry reviewed the book and made the sandwich, you can check her post out here).

I have to say that a long time ago I used to love carnitas. I will definitely try one of these recipes!

jackfruit

So, how did I like my BBQ Jackelope sandwich from Native Foods? Well, I liked it a lot. The texture is amazing (unless you’re a vegan who gets freaked out by food that feels too “meaty”). The flavor of the jackfruit was a little overwhelmed by the sauce which was a little too spicy. I say that as someone who would put Sriracha on everything, so if you aren’t into spicy food, this particular sandwich might not be right for you. The Asian slaw (which is on the sandwich itself), helps to cool it down and adds a satisfying crunch. I will order it again.

Jackfruit

Have you ever tried jackfruit? What did you think?

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Comments

  1. says

    I’ve never heard of Jackfruit, but I have eaten Jackelope while in Arizona. Just kidding :). Sounds great, I’ll have to give it a try. I’m always looking new things to substitute for meat in my meals.
    Aimee recently posted..Pro Form Ab GliderMy Profile

  2. says

    Isn’t jackfruit fun? I’m always excited when I see it on a menu. The first time I ever had it was at a restaurant called Pure Luck in Los Angeles that’s closed now (although the recipe they used is available online). I also had it in Wisconsin at a Nepalese restaurant. However, my favorite restaurant where I’ve eaten it is FUD in Kansas City. They use it in tacos and burritos and do some amazing things with it.

    When I lived in Los Angeles, I’d buy canned jackfruit at India Sweets & Spices, but almost any Indian grocery store should have it. I can even find it in the small town where I live now in the Asian section of my regular grocery store.

    If you have Vegan Eats World, Terry Hope also has a jackfruit carnitas recipe that’s pretty terrific.

    Hopefully the Bistro Steak Sandwich won’t stay away too long! πŸ™‚
    Cadry recently posted..Native Foods in Santa MonicaMy Profile

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