Jackfruit is trendy right now. I love Jackfruit. I don’t love trends. Trends tend to forget the why and bypass the essence just to be cool. That sucks.
That’s what happened to Jackfruit. People started calling it a meat replacer. That is bullshit. Jackfruit is rich in fiber and minerals. Lots of good stuff. Meat is protein. 2 very different things.
Do people need more fibre and minerals? I believe so. Do people need to start eating foods that nourish the Earth, not destroy her? I believe so. Can people do with less meat? Is protein overrated? Do we need more vitality of living foods and less density from animal products? I say yes.
Is eating meat wrong? Who am I to judge. Although I have invited our students to kill their own animals. Most meat eaters tap out the moment I asked them to slash the chicken’s head off with a rusty knife.
Jackfruit is just so much cleaner and less intimidating. Eating animals requires respect and courage. Qualities we have lost as humans. And supermarkets took over from there, wrapping meat in sterile plastic.
So why did you start eating Jackfruit Simon? Well it happened that some 8 years ago I started cooking at a Silent Retreat center in rural Bali. The closest supermarket was a 40 minute drive. I promised the founder of the center to cook nothing with eye balls so I had to get inventive. See I don’t like rabbit food.
All the foods that were known to me like potatoes and cabbage would get hammered in the garden by pests. And farmers didn’t want to deliver because of the distance. I kept running into these giant fruits on my morning walks through the jungle. So I started talking to the locals. And they showed me the way with Jack.
Young jackfruits, the fruits that have barely produced seeds, fruity flesh and aroma yet, if cooked correctly, has a lovely, stringy texture that somewhat resembles meat. If seasoned nicely, and cooked to the correct moisture level it gets exciting. To make it meaty, one has to incorporate an ‘umami’ taste using things like soy sauce, miso, nutritional yeast, fish sauce, or even parmesan cheese. Grilled meat naturally has a very savoury taste, you’ll need to work on that since you are cooking young fruit, not grass fed beef.
Ripe jackfruit is a whole different story. It is super aromatic and delightfully textured. Any cooking or seasoning would be unnecessary, some would argue even disrespectful. To tackle a whole ripe Jackfruit you need skills. First you had to fight the insects by bagging the fruit to protect it from invaders, laying eggs inside the fruit and have their offspring devouring the fruit from the inside. You might bump into insect damage in your 20 kg fruit, but you can just cut around it.
Jack will bleed very sticky way upon slashing him. Rub your hands and knife in oil beforehand and you will thank me later. Fruit segments are the size of a tulip and contain a protein rich, large seed. You may cook these seeds, peel it and use like chick peas in Jack hummus. Or fry them until crispy and season them with salt. The protein in jackfruit is in the seed, not in the flesh. Strangely enough Jackfruit hipsters don’t eat them seeds. Suckers.
Lastly. Understand that Jack is an enthusiastic boy. He likes to produce more fruits than he can typically sustain. By us harvesting some of the young fruits, we ensure Jack saves himself and remains strong enough to nourish those remaining fruits all the way until sugary sweet ripeness. Perhaps Jack wanted us to cook young jackfruit curry all along. Who’s to say trees don’t whisper to us in our sleep?