Confession: Before I transitioned to a vegan diet, I ate a lot of meat. Like most, I assumed the animals were humanely cared for and died quickly and painlessly. I learned otherwise after I was well into a plant-based lifestyle.
This didn’t change the fact that I missed the chewy, savory, greasy aspects of my former diet. As a result, I decided to take on applying those characteristics to plant-based mediums. Jackfruit was my first canvas, as I started this new path with a sensitivity to gluten. Being totally unfamiliar with this strange fruit, I started out using recipes I found on the internet.
There are a couple of key mistakes I repeatedly found in jackfruit recipes. The most common is a long cook time. Jackfruit doesn’t benefit from slow cooking. It only becomes mushy, defeating the purpose of using it for texture.
In fact, jackfruit doesn’t need to be cooked at all! The cooking I suggest is mainly to bring it to a temperature that will enhance the flavor and add warmth to the dish.
Also, other jackfruit recipes tend to fail to include fats or oils. Fat is a critical component of the savory-chewy-greasy appeal of meat. To not include any fat or oil detracts significantly from the flavor and results in a less filling entree. The beauty of adding fat to jackfruit is YOU get to choose how much and what kind is in there! I do strongly suggest including the sesame oil at the very least, as it packs a lot of flavor.
NOTE: This recipe is only for the young, green jackfruit in brine or water. These can be either purchased in cans or in bags from Upton’s Naturals.
Jackfruit Shawarma + Tzatziki Sauce
4 cans jackfruit in brine or water
1 package Shan Shawerma Arabic spice mix*
1 T sesame oil
3 T neutral oil
¼ cup lemon juice
1 T granulated garlic
¼ cup nutritional yeast
Open jackfruit cans into colander, draining off water. Slice jackfruit 1-2 times, creating elongated triangles. (“Acute” angles if you’re geometric)
Place back in colander and hand squeeze out as much moisture as you can.
Add seasonings, yeast, lemon juice and oil and mix thoroughly by hand, kneading seasonings and oil into jackfruit.
Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight to allow flavors to settle.
Saute in skillet with Earth Balance.
Enjoy on lightly toasted pita bread with tzatziki sauce, on a lettuce wrap, as a pizza topping, etc…
1 cup vegan mayo
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1-3 cloves of crushed garlic
1/4 cup fresh, squeezed lemon juice
5 to 6 mint leaves, finely minced
Salt to taste
*DIY Shawarma Seasoning Mix
• 2 t cumin
• 2 t paprika
• 1 t allspice
• 3/4 t turmeric
• 1 T granulated garlic
• 1/4 t cinnamon
• Pinch of cayenne
• Salt and black pepper