A massive, prickly fruit that many of us have passed over at the supermarket for years is now entering hot trend territory. Turns out that when you cook the unripe interior pods of the jackfruit, the resulting fibrous superstar ingredient can be molded into anything you desire, from shredded pulled “pork” to a “meaty” addition to pasta dishes.
Because of its malleable texture, operators can use it in much the same way as tofu or tempeh, adding spices and flavorings that fit menu styles from Indian to Italian.
At the recent National Restaurant Association Show, we spotted Upton’s Naturals offering prepackaged jackfruit in varieties ranging from Bar-B-Que to Thai Curry. Large suppliers such as Gordon Food Service are also getting in the game, offering precooked, vacuum-packed jackfruit for easy prep.
Jackfruit is turning up on menus across the board.
Real Food Daily in Los Angeles serves up Jackfruit Street Tacos with grilled jackfruit, roasted tomato salsa, avocado and all the fixings inside three corn tortillas.
The Welcome Diner in Phoenix offers a Pulled Jackfruit Po’boy with braised jackfruit, coleslaw and Carolina BBQ sauce. For those in the mood for smothered fries, a BBQ jackfruit variety is available.
At Mula Mexican Kitchen and Tequileria in Omaha, the Jackfruit al Pastor torta is served with chile guajillo jackfruit and charred pineapple.
Celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan of Chauhan Ale & Masala House in Nashville occasionally runs a jackfruit biryani special, using the fruit in place of the traditional meat. Jackfruit meshes nicely with the Indian spices, rice and vegetables.
The Jackfruit Tamales at Beer Kitchen in Kansas City, MO, feature vegan blue corn masa, dueling salsas, heirloom Anasazi beans and beer-battered avocado.