I’ve never been one for meat substitutes– if I’m going to eat vegetarian, I’m fine with embracing that rather than trying to make it taste like meat– but I’d heard so much about “jackfruit pulled pork” that I just had to try it myself. The concept is simple: you take canned, green jackfruit and simmer it in sauce until it can be pulled into shreds, much like pulled pork. Many recipes call for using a crockpot over several hours, but I found that you can simmer for 30 minutes and have it turn out fine.
The texture of the shredded jackfruit is hard to describe– it’s not quite like meat, since it doesn’t have the same firmness, but it’s definitely reminiscent of meat in a way that most other vegetables aren’t. It kind of reminds me of the texture of fake crabmeat– the kind that comes in sticks. In any case, it’s never going to fool anyone into thinking it’s real meat, but it’s probably as close as you’re going to get.
Rather than go with a standard BBQ sauce (though I’m sure it would’ve been tasty), I opted to go with a Korean bulgogi sauce, which I thought turned out great. Sandwiched in a steamed bun (purchased frozen at my local Korean market) and topped with various vegetable trimmings, I’d say the overall effect was pretty good! If I were having a barbecue and my guest list included vegetarians, I wouldn’t hesitate to serve these!
Bulgogi-Marinated Jackfruit Bao
(serves 4 for appetizers)
1 20-oz can of brined jackfruit
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup bulgogi sauce
1 tbs. hoisin sauce
1 tsp. hot sauce (like sriracha)
Plain steamed buns
Red cabbage, sliced thin
Cucumber, cut into matchsticks
Pickled shallots or red onion
1. Drain your canned jackfruit and move to a medium skillet over medium-low heat.
2. Add water, bulgogi sauce, and hot sauce. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes.
3. Use the back of a fork to smash the jackfruit into shreds. Mix with sauce and continue to simmer until sauce thickens up, another 7-10 minutes.
4. Serve with steamed bao and vegetable accompaniments.