So meat grows on trees now.
You’re right. In 2018 you don’t exactly need the creative imagination of a 7-year-old after a sweet shop lock-in to picture it. In fact, what with the rapid technological advances of late, (Driverless cars! Paying for stuff with your face! Social media is gonna eat us all!) and the pure bat-shit nature of the news right now (nah, let’s not remind ourselves), ‘Scientist Grows World’s First Bacon Bush!’ would be a page five newspaper headline at best.
But what is cool, is that this isn’t some new-fangled breakthrough born in a petri dish. No no son, this is an all-natural occurrence. A sweet meaty treat from Old Mother Nature herself. And it’s called “tree mutton”.
Well, that’s the Bengali term for it. Closer to home, you’ll have seen it filling up the menus of the coolest, most hyped, most queue-for-ages food spots in town under its western name: Jackfruit.
Yeah, okay, it’s not strictly meat. FINE OKAY, it’s not a meat at all. But hear us out - we defy anyone to slam a hunk of this stuff in their mouth and not do the whole “OMG how is this not pork! Are you sure this isn’t pork? This is pork you goddamn liar. You’re a goddamn liar and this is both the most delicious and worst first date I’ve ever been on, I’m calling an Uber” spiel that’s become the soundtrack of every meat-free restaurant that serves it.
And there are a heck of a lot of restaurants that serve it, all taking full advantage of the naturally fleshy texture inside what basically looks like a furious 40kg watermelon.
Kerb’s Spice Box use it to pimp out a tikka masala, Stoke Newington’s Haunt make a heck of a burger out of it, Som Saa slam it into a dessert, and our personal faves, Club Mexicana, do an array of outrageously amazing things with it in their all-vegan kitchen that had us fully questioning our allegiances to eating animals for a whole second.
And because you can now find jackfruit in any Asian supermarket, specialist online food shop and even Amazon, we picked the cheffy brains of Club Mexicana’s founder Meriel Armitage to share three major-league jackfruit recipes, from easy to expert, for you to try at home tonight and to see what all the fuss is about…
ENTRY LEVEL: Pulled BBQ Jackfruit Burritos
50g long grain rice
1 tin of jackfruit in brine, drained and pulled apart
100ml BBQ sauce
1 tbs veg oil
1 tub of sour cream
1 avocado, sliced
1 jar pickled jalepenos
1/2 shredded cos lettuce
2 flour wraps
Your favourite hot sauce
1. Cook the rice, and keep warm until you’re ready to use it.
2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the jackfruit and cook on a high heat for 5-10 mins, browning at the edges, the add the BBQ sauce and mix well. Keep cooking until all the sauce has been absorbed by the jackfruit and it’s crisping up at the edges.
3. Transfer the cooked jackfruit into a bowl, cover and keep warm. Wipe the pan clean and bring it back to a high temperature. Drop a wrap in and heat on both sides, until it’s starting to puff up and slightly toasted. Repeat with the second.
4. Remove the warm wraps from the pan and start layering in your fillings: lettuce, rice, jackfruit, sour cream, avocado slices, and as many jalapeños and as much hot sauce as you can handle. Wrap up, cut in half, and place your entire face in it.
NEXT LEVEL: Vegan Kentucky-Fried Jackfruit
250 ml soy milk
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tbs hot sauce (optional)
1 tin jackfruit in brine, drained
1 tbs smoked paprika
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp baking powder
1L rapeseed oil
1. To make your buttermilk, mix the soy milk with the vinegar and leave to rest for a few minutes.
2. Break the jackfruit up into bitesized pieces, then drop into the buttermilk mix. Let it sit for between 20 mins and an hour.
3. Mix all the dry ingredients together. Heat the oil in a large pan to 180 degrees - you want it hot but not smoking.
4. Take pieces of jackfruit from the buttermilk and roll in the dry mix until well coated, then gently lower into the hot oil. Cook until brown and crispy on all sides, and remove from oil with a slotted spoon. Place onto kitchen roll to absorb the oil.
5. Serve with your favourite hot sauce, sour cream, or vegan mayo mixed with hot sauce, or pile it on top of a waffle for some serious clean-conscious filth.
BOSS LEVEL: Jackfruit Carnitas
2 tins of jackfruit, drained
4 garlic cloves
2 tbs ground cumin
1/2 tbs oregano
2 cups of your favourite salsa
2 tbs Mexican hot sauce
1 cup nutritional yeast
rapeseed or veg oil
For the pineapple salsa
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 white onion
2 cloves garlic
For the sour cream
1 tub unsweetened soy, almond or coconut yoghurt
1/4 teaspoon of salt (or to taste)
1. To make the pineapple salsa, char the onion, jalapeños and garlic on all sides in a very hot large frying pan. Put the pineapple juice in a saucepan and add the cooked mix with a pinch of salt, then simmer until it’s reduced by half. Add to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth, but retaining a little texture. Rest in the fridge.
2. Next, add two tablespoons of oil to the frying pan and heat until smoking. Add the jackfruit. Sprinkle with sea salt and cook until crispy (30-40 minutes), turning regularly. You want the water in the jackfruit to evaporate so it can soak up the sauce.
3. Finely chop the onion and garlic, and slice the jalapeño into rounds. Add a tablespoon of oil to a pan and cook everything until the onion is translucent. Then, add the jackfruit, 1/2 cup of veg oil, cumin and oregano and cook for five minutes, stirring well. Add the salsa and hot sauce and cook until the sauce has been absorbed (about 10 minutes), then add the yeast flakes and cook for another 10 minutes, to allow flavours to combine.
4. Mix the juice of one lemon in your chosen yoghurt and salt to taste, to make a sour cream.
5. Heat a drop of oil in your pan until very hot. Lay down your taco and cook until for 10-20 seconds, until it starts to bubble, then flip to do the same on the other side. Repeat with all tacos.
6. Spoon your salsa onto each taco, then drop a tablespoon of jackfruit on top with a dollop of the sour cream to finish, and inhale.