Two years ago I didn’t even know what jackfruit was. My first experience with this versatile fruit was at a vegan restaurant that I worked at. We made jackfruit tacos, enchiladas, soups and we even used it to substitute seafood like tuna or crab. Since then I have moved on to working in another kitchen that doesn’t offer jackfruit as a vegetarian option and usually uses only tempeh or tofu. So when we had a taco day the other day and had tempeh once again, I started dreaming of the jackfruit tacos I used to eat so often. The meat option that day was carnitas, so I decided to go home and make some carnitas of my own with the two cans I jackfruit I had in my pantry.
If you can’t find jackfruit at your regular supermarket in the Asian section or with canned fruits or vegetables, you will always be able to find it at any Asian supermarket. Jackfruit is originally from India and Southeast Asia but is also very popular in Brazil and other South American countries. It is the largest fruit in the world and can grow to be 80 pounds. I haven’t personally had a ripe or fresh jackfruit but I hear it tastes like Juicy fruit, Yummmy! For savory dishes you want to make sure you buy the green fruit in brine.
When you open the can and strain it you can either break it apart with you fingers for a very shredded look or you can just break it up in the frying pan with a sharp spatula. As it warms up it will become easier to break apart.
Here is my recipe for jackfruit carnitas. I tried to keep it as authentic as possible to the original pork recipes by simmering it in orange juice. Not only is jackfruit super low in calories, you also don’t have to spend hours cooking it on the stove like the meat version.
TIME: 30 minutes
Two 20 ounce cans of green jackfruit in brine
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion diced
3 cloves of garlic minced
2 serrano chili peppers
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup of orange juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
Start by dicing your onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat in the coconut oil until they become translucent and then add your serrano chilies. Make sure to deseed the chilies unless you really want some spicy food! If you can’t get serrano chilies, you can always substitute with jalapeños.
Next add your jackfruit and heat about five minutes or until it gets nice and hot. If you haven’t already started shredding the jackfruit when you removed it from the can, you can start now by using the edge of you spatula. As it gets warmer, it will get easier. Don’t worry about getting it completely shredded, the tougher parts will add texture to your dish.
Next add orange juice, soy sauce and liquid smoke and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and mix well again so they are evenly distributed. Let the jackfruit sit and simmer in the pan until all the liquid has dried up. I like to leave it on a little longer to brown the outside.
Serve your finished vegan jackfruit carnitas by serving on corn tortillas with cilantro and avocados and your favorite salsa.