This dish has been at the top of my culinary to-do list for months, and I was elated to finally give it a shot. As a vegan with an interest in fitness and bodybuilding, I am always on the prowl for plant-based meat alternatives that go beyond simple soy. I first encountered Jackfruit at a local vegan restaurant in Raleigh, NC wherein I was immediately intrigued. That being said, jackfruit isn't something one necessarily sees regularly at the conventional neighborhood grocery store, so I wrote it off as a potential meal option, considering my budget and busy schedule.

Once I started shopping at a local Asian market, I discovered that not only was jackfruit readily available to me, but it fell well within my budget.

What in the world is jackfruit?

Jackfruit, stemming from the jack (jak) tree is a species of tree fruit native to India and Sri Lanka. Unlike most western fruit, the jackfruit is normally used in savory dishes, as opposed to sweet ones. When cooked thoroughly, the fruit takes on a delightful chewy consistency, comparable to pulled pork. That being said, jackfruit can be easily transformed into a Mouth-watering meat alternative, as its texture and nutritional value are superior to tofu.

On the other hand, like tofu, the jackfruit absorbs flavor, when paired with a good marinade, creating a flavorful bite from start to finish. In a world where vegetarians and carnivores alike are becoming increasingly skeptical of soy, jackfruit is a perfect way to mix up your diet without compromising taste, texture or price.

Good things come to those who wait

This recipe can be a little time consuming; however, most of that time is spent waiting on the jackruit to cook.

To begin, here are the ingredients I used:

The barbecue sandwich

1 half jackfruit

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp chili powder

1 tbsp smoked salt

3 cups filtered water

2 tablespoons of barbecue sauce (I use a Kansas City style, but this depends on personal preference)

Bread or bun of your choice

The bok choy slaw

1 head bok choy

4 baby carrots

3 tbsp white wine vinegar

Salt & pepper to taste

Sweet potato fries

2 sweet potatoes

Salt & pepper to taste

To begin, remove the flesh form your jackfruit.

Boil water with salt in a pot and place the chunks of fruit into the salted water. Turn down to low heat and let the fruit simmer for 20 minutes. It is not necessary to cut the jackfruit. When cooked correctly, the jackfruit will actually begin to break apart into strips, just like pulled pork. I would recommend that you simply wait during this portion; because, the jackfruit will still need to cook in the oven. At this point, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Next, begin cutting your sweet potato into fries. Leave the skin on the sweet potato for an extra crunch. Leave these to the side for now.

Once the jackfruit has finished boiling, remove the fruit and place on a cooking sheet. I recommend using a generous amount of cooking spray to avoid having the jackfruit stick to the pan. Next, toss the jackfruit in barbecue sauce and bake it in the oven for one hour.

When there are about 30 minutes left on the jackfruit, place the sweet potato fries on a cooking sheet with salt and pepper. I also like to add a little garlic, paprika and rosemary to my fries. During the last few minutes of baking, cut your baby carrots into thin strips, chop up the bok choy and add in the white wine vinegar. This may also be a good time to toast your bread; however, toasting is optional and depends on personal preference.

Finally, remove your jackfruit and fries from the oven. Since the jackfruit will absorb the barbecue sauce, it may be a good idea to add a little additional barbecue sauce for maximum flavor. Toss the jackfruit on the bread, top with slaw and you are ready to go. This recipe provides about three or four servings, or maybe only two if you eat as much as I do. Enjoy with a glass of your favorite beer. You deserve it.

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