If you have seen any of my veggie redux posts before, you know that I love a good vegetarian remake of a classic meaty dish. In the past, I have tackled bangers and mash, shrimp and grits, caldo verde, chicken pot pie, and more. Recently I started experimenting with jackfruit for a vegetarian remake of pulled pork barbecue. I had seen barbecue jackfruit on the menus at Ipanema and Strange Matter, so this isn’t a completely original idea, but the recipe is the result of several hours of testing spice combinations in my own kitchen.
It all starts with young green jackfruit, a fruit that is indigenous to Southeast Asia. I found it canned at Tan-A, a large Asian supermarket in Richmond. This fruit works well because the texture is fibrous like pulled pork, and when unripe, it does not have a very strong taste. The young green jackfruit is a little tangy on its own but it is mainly a vehicle for the flavor of the barbecue sauce.
It is important to use either jackfruit in brine (rinsed) or jackfruit in water. Do not use jackfruit in syrup or else it will be very sweet. As the jackfruit cooks, it releases some liquid into the sauce and begins to pull apart. After some seasoning, simmering, and coaxing with forks, the jackfruit begins to resemble pulled pork barbecue.
When I had mastered my barbecue sauce recipe, I realized that I was on the way to not just a vegetarian barbecue sandwich, but a vegan one. I started working on a cole slaw recipe with that in mind. I grew up eating barbecue with creamy cole slaw, so I had to make sure I had some cool and crunchy cole slaw to balance my smoky and spicy barbecue jackfruit.
I made the cole slaw creamy and vegan by making vegan cashew cream and then expanding upon that technique to create a dressing. It starts with ground cashews and water, then after the addition of oil, vinegar, mustard, dill, salt, pepper, and a touch of maple syrup, a sweet and tangy dressing comes together. It is so creamy that it’s hard to believe that it’s vegan.
Since finalizing my recipes for both components, I have experimented even more with jackfruit, by putting the barbecue jackfruit on buns, over polenta, and piled on tostadas. Later this week, we’ll try it in enchiladas. Kyle has requested in in banh mi soon. If you add a little chili powder to the barbecue recipe and let it cook a bit longer over higher heat, you get something that resembles barbacoa, which is delicious stuffed in tortillas with fresh sliced avocado and lime.
I think omnivores and herbivores alike would enjoy this very smoky, spicy barbecue. It’s not going to fool you into thinking you are eating pork. but the flavor and texture might be close enough to the real thing to satisfy a craving. Warning: if you like your barbecue sweeter, back off on the spice just a bit. This one has a good amount of heat.
BBQ Jackfruit (Vegan “Pulled Pork BBQ”)
- 2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1- 20 oz. can young green jackfruit in water, drained (or in brine, drained and rinsed)
- 3 Tablespoons ketchup
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 Tablespoon molasses
- 1/4 cup water
- Heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic for 1 minute.
- Add next six ingredients (cayenne through sea salt), stir, and cook for 1 minute.
- Add jackfruit and stir to coat. Cook for 5 minutes.
- While jackfruit is cooking, mix together the remaining ingredients: ketchup, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, molasses and water. Add 1 tsp of vegetable oil. Stir to mix thoroughly and add to jackfruit. Bring to a simmer and cover.
- Cook over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
- Use forks to partially pull apart the fruit into strands and bite size pieces. Reduce heat to low and keep covered until ready to serve.
Creamy Vegan Cole Slaw
- 1/2 cup dry, shelled, unsalted, raw cashews
- 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground mustard
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1- 12 oz. package of rainbow slaw
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a food processor, grind the cashews into a meal, as finely chopped as possible.
- To the cashews, add dill and mustard and pulse until incorporated.
- Add water, olive oil, vinegar and maple syrup to the food processor and process until all ingredients are incorporated and the mixture resembles a vinaigrette.
- Dump the rainbow slaw into a large bowl with the green onions and add dressing. Stir to coat all of the slaw with the dressing and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Cover and refrigerate at least one hour and up to eight hours before serving.