When I say that this is the ultimate smoky pulled jackfruit tacos recipe I really mean it. Served with tangy salsa and perfect guacamole this has gone straight to the top of my favourite vegan meals list.
Last month I was asked to go on BBC Radio Berkshire to talk about cooking with jackfruit off the back of an article about how demand for jackfruit is soaring. While jotting down a few notes ahead of my first live radio experience (eek!) I was surprised to see just how much I knew about the fruit.
One of the reasons that jackfruit is so popular is that when cooked it behaves in much the same way as meat - in particular pulled pork. Having never eaten real pulled pork I can't really vouch for this fact but it certainly breaks down well when cooking. And because it has quite a neutral flavour it soaks up spices really well making it the perfect ingredient to use if you want to make vegan pulled pork tacos.
I like the fact that it's a fruit as well. It's not processed, it's not made with soya (I'm not saying we shouldn't eat soya products but it's easy as a vegan to eat a lot of them) and it's not grown in a lab. That has to be a good thing, right?
What is jackfruit?
My first encounter with jackfruit was in Uganda, about ten years ago. My brother and his family used to live there and they had a jackfruit tree at the end of their garden. The huge, yellowish fruit, which is covered in bumps was so unpopular that they couldn't give it away and the fruit often rotted at the end of the drive. Jackfruit can grow to an enormous size. In fact they grow so big that people are said to have died by one falling on their head, including a five year old boy in Kerala.
Ripe jackfruit is commonly used in Asian desserts such as ice cream, or can be eaten raw. If you're looking to create a vegan pulled pork though it's the unripe, or green, jackfruit that you'll need.
When bought fresh jackfruit is sometimes said to have a strange smell and to be difficult to prepare. According to my sister-in-law it's very sticky and it's best to wear gloves. Read more about how to prepare fresh jackfruit.
You can avoid this by buying tinned jackfruit - the hard work has been done for you and you can get on with creating your delicious pulled jackfruit tacos.
How to cook tinned jackfruit
First of all make sure that you buy jackfruit in water or brine. If you buy the stuff in syrup you won't be able to use it for this recipe. I buy this variety from my local Asian shop and it costs around £1.30. I have seen it on sale for as much as £4 a tin however so it's worth shopping around. If you can't find it near you it's available on Amazon*.
Your tinned jackfruit will already be cut up into chunks. Open up your tin and drain the jackfruit. Give it a good rinse in a colander and then tip out onto a chopping board.
Slice each piece of jackfruit two or three times so you have smaller chunks. Some recipes say that you should cut out the middle piece (the bit that looks solid) but that seems to waste so much of the jackfruit that I don't do that.
Your jackfruit is now ready to use to make your jackfruit tacos.
How to make vegan smoky pulled jackfruit tacos
You'll be surprised how easy this vegan smoky pulled jackfruit recipe is to make. You'll need a few ingredients such as liquid smoke*, which you might not already have but it's totally worth making the investment in a bottle as if you're anything like me you'll be making this recipe as least once a week!
Vegan smoky pulled jackfruit tacos
For the smoky pulled jackfruit
- 1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
- 2 x 482g tins of jackfruit in water drained and sliced (see above)
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 4 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp chipotle flakes
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- Juice of one lime
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 tsp liquid smoke
- 250 ml water
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the tomato salsa
- 1/2 small onion finely chopped
- 3 medium tomatoes diced
- Juice of one lime
- Small handful coriander finely chopped
- Sea salt to taste
- Corn tortillas 2-3 per person
- Fresh coriander chopped
- Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan.
- Fry the onion over a medium heat, stirring often for about 10 minutes until soft and golden brown.
- Add the garlic and fry for one minute. Add the spices, stir and then add the tomato purée.
- Cook for a minute stirring often then add the sliced jackfruit and all the liquid ingredients.
- Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes until the liquid has evaporated. Stir and break down the jackfruit with a wooden spoon as you go. This will get easier towards the end of the cooking process as it softens.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste
To make the tomato salsa
- Mix the chopped onion, tomatoes, lime juice and chopped coriander together. Season with salt to taste. Set aside
- Warm the tortillas. Add a large dollop of the jackfruit mixture and top with the salsa, guacamole and other toppings as liked. Fold in half or wrap up like a burrito and don't worry if it gets messy - it's all part of the fun!
This recipe is adapted from one that I made at Demuths Cookery School. Read my review of their Indulgent Vegan cookery course.
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