Friday recipe: vegetarian pulled “pork”

I get a kick out of recipes with surprising ingredients, like my cousin Sherry’s mashed potato candy (irresistible). Or some weird church lady’s pork and bean bars, a recipe that called for an undrained can of Van Camp’s magically transformed into deliciously moist pumpkin-bar-like treats. I’ve made a yummy high-protein torte with a whizzed-up can of chickpeas and brownies with similarly processed black beans.

But my new discovery has opened a whole new culinary door in my kitchen: jackfruit. This member of the mulberry family native to parts of South and Southeast Asia produces the world’s largest tree-borne fruit…which you can transform easily into pulled “pork.” And which you can serve to amaze your friends, trick your children, supply that tailgate party and be kind to your waistline.

Behold a can of culinary opportunity.

I found this recipe on yet another food blog, Clean Green Simple, which describes how its author, Jessica, strives to live her life. I’ve found several intriguing recipes on her site, but this one takes the cake, makes the sandwich and feeds the soul.

I found canned jackfruit in brine – that’s important; don’t use the kind packed in syrup – at my favorite local Asian Market, Double Dragon. Drain the fruit and rinse it well. You’ll see each piece has a bit of solid core; cut most of that off and discard. That will leave you with the jackfruit parts that, as you cook it, you can break apart in the same way you would prepare pulled pork.

Side note: I made an ultra-easy variation on this dish by placing drained, chopped canned jackfruit, cumin, garlic, chili powder (really, whatever seasonings you like), some leftover cooked corn cut off the cob, and a can of enchilada sauce (salsa verde would also work) in my crockpot (the goddess of all kitchen utensils), all of which I cooked on low for about seven hours. It was delicious on its own or would be a fabulous filling for tacos or enchiladas.

Vegetarian pulled “pork”

  • 20-ounce can jackfruit in brine, drained and rinsed with solid core parts removed
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Rolls, bread or wraps of your choice

For the dry rub – adjust to your preferred taste:

  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

For the wet sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add onion to a skillet over medium low and heat until caramelized and brown. Add garlic for the last minute or so, until fragrant.

Mix together dry rub spices and toss with jackfruit pieces until coated. Place in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat for about five minutes to toast spices.

Mix together wet sauce ingredients and add to saucepan with the onion and garlic. Simmer jackfruit in sauce for 15-30 minutes until well heated and softened. Using a fork, shred the jackfruit pieces into small stringy bits. Spread mixture evenly on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes until slightly dried out.

Serve on your bread of choice.

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