Our Blog

IMG_5194

Jackfruit and I made our first acquaintance after watching the Berlinale culinary cinema’s screening of The Fruit Hunters.  It’s about nature, commerce, intrigue, cultivars and preservationists. It’s a documentary about the world of rare fruit and those who seek it out. It’s an epicurean quest for the planet’s exotic fruits. At the end of the screening, director Yung Chang revealed an enormous jackfruit that must’ve weighed over 60 pounds (27kg)and measured over 20″(over 50cm) in length. It was my first taste of a flavour I’d never forget.

Jackfruit is the world’s largest tree borne fruit and has a spiny exterior. The exterior is green when unripe and yellow when ripe. All jackfruit has a latex-type syrup inside, and when handled, it’s best to coat your hands and work surface with some sort of cooking oil to prevent it from sticking. Inside are dozens of carpels surrounding enormous seeds. The carpels have a reminiscent taste of the original Juicy Fruit gum.

Jackfruit has been on American menus for some time now, almost to the point of being passé. A few years ago, enroute to Nooch in Denver, I stopped at a hole-in-the-wall bar and ordered BBQ jackfruit on a bun with a local beer. That was the first time I’d eaten jackfruit as a savoury.

Jackfruit may  never make a Berlin menu appearance in spite of the fact that we have access to fresh jackfruit when it’s in season. Fresh jackfruit can be found at the Vietnamese shopping center Don Xuan (pronounced Don Sung) NE of the city in Lichtenberg. You can purchase jackfruit at the many Asian markets, canned in either sweet syrup or water. For this recipe I used jackfruit in water. Surprisingly, the package is labelled in plain English. I was fortunate to find a package of peeled, fresh, ripe, sweet jackfruit at Vin Loi near the KaDeWe. Why I was craving jackfruit is beyond my wildest imagination. Finding the ripe fruit at Vin Loi was a little slice of heaven. It tastes heavenly.

Parties are always in season at CHEFinBERLIN and I decided that a ‘sort of’ Mu Shu Jackfruit would be on the next menu. Chinese Mu Shu Pork is traditionally served on Mandarin Pancakes. Here the jackfruit stands in for pork and it’s served on a soft and tender cornmeal crêpe. This oil-free recipe can be made in 35 minutes.

IMG_5195

Mu Shu Jackfruit  – oil free recipe

1 small onion, diced
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger root
1 20 ounce/560g can young green jackfruit in water or brine (not syrup), well drained. Slice off core and finely chop. Shred remainder with your hands.
½ cup/125 ml vegetable broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce (or wheat-free tamari)
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce, plus 2 tablespoons for serving
4 green onions, sliced

optional:  1 teaspoon sesame oil

In a medium-sized saucepan, saute the onion until it softens (add a splash of water or broth if it begins to stick). Add the garlic and ginger root and cook for another minute.

Add the chopped jackfruit, vegetable broth, soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce to the pan. Add optional sesame oil. Bring to a simmer, uncovered, and cook on low until jackfruit softens and liquid is evaporated. Right before serving toss the jackfruit with the remaining hoisin sauce. Serve on cornmeal crêpes. Garnish with chopped green onion and optional pickled red onions.

Cornmeal Crêpes

1¾ cups/414ml water (or more if mixture is too dry)

1 cup/250ml  yellow cornmeal or ½ cup cornmeal or grits + ½ cup cornmeal flour

½ cup/125ml unbleached flour (or cornmeal flour)

½ teaspoon salt

Put all of the ingredients in a blender and thoroughly mix.  I like to put the mix in a bowl and use a gravy ladle for making the crêpes. You will need to stir this for each new crêpe. Using a pre-heated ceramic pan or non-stick pan, ladle a suitable amount of the batter. Cook until the crêpe is dry on one side then flip. Remove carefully and keep warm on a plate covered with a clean tea towel. Serve immediately. They can be wrapped in foil and refrigerated until serving time. You can also reheat the stack of crêpes in the foil and bake at 350F/170C for 10-15 minutes.

IMG_5205

If you are serving this as an appetiser you may want to portion the crêpes smaller or use a cutter as I did.

IMG_5188

Jackfruit is not only versatile but it’s highly nutritious too.  Enjoy!

IMG_5194

Always remember to cook with love. I guarantee your food will taste better!

Jill DiGiovanni

9 Comments

  1. Jill, I’ve heard of Jackfruit before but have never tried it. I’ve not to my knowledge seen any in the supermarkets here in the UK either although a quick search online shows that it is available in cans. The nearest Asian supermarket is some distance away but next time I go there I’ll be sure to ask for it. I love trying new fruit and vegetables.

    These look so pretty & appetizing I think I might try to make them next month when my brother and some cousins are coming to lunch.

    Looking forward to your next amazing recipe.

    Sandy

    Reply
    • CHEFinBERLIN

      Hi Sandy thanx for your nice feedback. It’s always fun to ‘step out of the box’ when it comes to our food choices. Things that are foreign to us are perfectly natural in other people’s kitchens. Jackfruit is also used in Indian cuisine, in particular the area of Kerala. Happy Cooking!

      Reply
  2. Hi Jill
    I tried jackfruit in Bali..one day the family whom we were renting our house from brought us some from their yard. At first I didn’t like it, but the taste grew on me. The recipe looks really good!

    Reply
  3. Hi Jill,

    Never heard of jack fruit before but it sounds very interesting. I can’t tell from the recipes if it’s a sweet dish? The combinations of ingredients from the different recipes, I can’t seem to get a good feel for the taste. What does the fruit actually taste like. I guess I’m thinking in terms of sweet as a fruit. (Totally me I think). Can you describe the taste? Is it a fruit that anyone can eat plain or something that should be mixed with other ingredients as in your recipe. All new to me and very curious as I love new things. Would love to know.

    Thanks,
    Barbara

    Reply
    • CHEFinBERLIN

      Hi Barbara

      Did you ever try Juicy Fruit gum when you were a child? That’s the flavour of ripe jackfruit. It is delicious and doesn’t need any other ingredients when using the ripe fruit. When it is unripe it takes on whatever flavour you are cooking with because it is not ripe and sweet. The carpels of ripe jackfruit as smooth and succulent. It has a taste all on it’s own. Thanx for visiting my blog!

      Reply
    • CHEFinBERLIN

      Thank you Laurie! Nice of you to “stop by” my blog – have a great weekend xo

      Reply
  4. Jill,
    This looks absolutely amazing. Ya know, I’ve seen a few recipes with jackfruit, I had never heard of it before. I will have to remember to look for it the next time I go to the Asian market.

    It seems to be quite a diversified fruit, no? I can’t wait to try it. Thanks so much for sharing.
    Lisa

    Reply
    • CHEFinBERLIN

      Lisa thanx for stopping by–you’re one busy lady these days!! Jackfruit is very diversified. Hope you can give it a try sometimes – the ideas are endless. Cheers to you Lisa!!

      Reply

So, what do you think ?