If you watched or read my kitchen tour last week, you might have spotted an unusual looking tin in one of my cupboards. Jackfruit is an ingredient that is becoming increasingly popular in both home cooking and restaurant menus. A plant-based alternative to pulled meats, jackfruit is a tropical fruit related to figs and mulberries. Some ethnic supermarkets do sell the giant fruit, but it is more commonly sold tinned, which makes it an easier product to work with. Whilst ripe jackfruit is sweet in flavour and often used to make desserts, young, or green jackfruit is gives the meaty texture and takes in savoury flavours. Make sure for this recipe you use green jackfruit!
One problem with the fruit being used to replace animal products is that its nutritional composition does not match the profile of meat. In particular, jackfruit only contains around 2g protein per 100g*, compared to 25-30g in chicken**. To help balance this out a little, I chose to add walnuts. Walnut taco “meat” seems to be a fairly popular plant-based option, and is a relatively soft nut, so doesn’t add too much crunch. This still only adds a few extra grams of protein per serving, but should make this dish a little more well-rounded and satisfying.
The team at Coconut Merchant kindly sent me some jackfruit to try for myself, and I really was surprised at how easy it is to cook. It takes in the flavour of the sauce and spices beautifully, leading to a very satisfying meal.
Whether you serve these tacos with a soft tortilla or crispy baked shell is up to you! I used small shop-bought tortilla wraps and hung them over a rack in the oven as if they were towels hung to dry on an airer, and baked for a few minutes until they could hold their shape. The longer you bake the tortillas, the crispier they’ll be. If you can get hold of (or make!) corn tortillas, then all the better.
One of my favourite thing about tacos is the range of textures and flavours that you get in just one bite, so I would definitely recommend a good serving of the carrot and cabbage. Use a sharp knife or mandolin to get the finest slices that you can.
About five seconds before the jackfruit taco went everywhere!!
* Swami S.B., et al. (2012). Jackfruit and its many functional components as related to human health: a review. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 11(6), pp.565-576.
**McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods: Seventh Summary Edition. (2015).