I fell in love with jack fruit in 2017.
Pinterest aided in the start of the love affair by suggesting pins about BBQ jack fruit and buffalo jack fruit dishes that were just mouth watering. I was intrigued. I had questions. I didn’t want to get involved in something that would just later break my heart.
There was a fruit that I could use to mimic some of my favorite recipes? Was this true? Where could I find this hidden gem? How do I cook it? What does it taste like? Does it take on the flavors that it is cooked with? Is it better simmered, sauteed, or baked? Does it smell weird?!
So down the internet hole I fell, searching for answers.
Then I found it. You can buy cans of ripe jack fruit at Sprouts! After a trip to Sprouts, an hour in the kitchen, blood, sweat, and tears – the deed was done. My first dish was BBQ jack fruit.
It was sweet. It was savory. It was a little bit like eating BBQ chicken marinated in fruit juice. But it was MY fruit juice marinated chicken flavored jack fruit and it was delicious.
Since that first night, jack fruit and I have become a much more cohesive and understanding pair. With jack fruit as the main ingredient, I can now make a spicy cheezy dip, an artichoke dip, pulled pork-esk BBQ sandwiches, tacos, and tamales. Our options are limitless.
To you, my jack fruit, the plant that gives endless meat alternative possibilities to a vegan in need, I thank you. I thank you for being flexible and delicious in all your forms. I thank you for being a good source of vitamins and antioxidants. I thank you for being giant, green, and spiky, because who doesn’t love a cool spiky fruit.
Below are a few photos of myself and my love. As I travel, I find jack fruit meeting me in places unexpectedly, as if we are just meant to be.
We found a little building with a farmer’s market and retail stalls inside. As we ventured into an Asian food store, I saw it. Big and green, sticking out like a sore thumb against a barrel of potatoes, a lone jack fruit. I gave it a quick hug, apologized that I wouldn’t be able to take it home with me, and bid it goodbye as I explained to my cousin why I absolutely needed to hug that piece of fruit.
Again, at a farmer’s market, I ran into my dear sweet jack fruit. I’m beginning to think it is our destiny to meet among nature’s produce. It was a beautiful day at an open air market in Honolulu. We took the girls to find sun dresses, beaded bracelets, and gifts for their grandmothers back home. Mid way through our shopping adventure, we stopped at a stall to admire the fresh cut melons and to grab a snack. As I gazed across the table, it caught my eye, hanging in the corner of the stall. The proprietor of the fruit stand would not allow us to embrace, but my husband took our photo anyways.
Even chain “farmer’s markets” are now carrying jack fruit. I can walk into a Sprout’s and find jack fruit waiting to be rescued on a low lying end cap self in the produce section. I wish I could save them all, but alas, no one can eat that much jack fruit at once.
❤ La Lady Valdez