I was pescetarian for years before going vegan, so I went for a very long time without a BBQ sandwich. It wasn’t until last year that I discovered that vegans actually can eat BBQ. I have seen multiple variations of the concept by now, but my favorite is the jackfruit version. Jackfruit is a fruit (duh) and grows on a tree. This is what it looks like on a tree and also cut open. It is a really amazing fruit. You can find out more about it at http://www.businessinsider.com/this-miracle-fruit-tastes-like-pulled-pork-2015-8
The first time I tried a BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich was at Fruits and Roots in Stuart, FL. You can check them out at https://www.fruitsandrootsvegancafe.com/. The sandwich was one of their daily specials and was seriously amazing. It was Southern style, with vegan slaw. It was huge, but I ate the entire thing. I am not even ashamed of myself. It was seriously delicious.
It’s not super easy to find at restaurants, so I decided to see if I could figure out how to make it. The trouble is fresh jackfruit isn’t all that easy to find either. The good news is that vacuum sealed and canned jackfruit seeds are getting easier to find. You will want to check your local health food store or Asian market. On the Treasure Coast, I can find it vacuum packed which I think tastes a little better than canned. However, when in the Abacos, you get what you can get and you don’t throw a fit. So, I was happy to find it canned at the Abaco Asian Market in Marsh Harbor. That’s the co-owner, “Johnny Cash”, in the photo. He and his wife own the store. I’ll write more about the other vegan options he has in another post coming soon.
When I saw jackfruit on the shelf, I was super stoked, because I thought about Pulled-Jackfruit BBQ right away. I took a can home and made myself lunch. The thing about canned jackfruit is you need to smush it a bit to get the right texture and consistency for the “pulled” effect. Also, there are some really hard nubs in there that you’ll want to throw out. I took a photo of them by the can so you can see what I mean. You can feel them as you squish the pieces. If a bit is too hard to squish, set it aside. The rest of it should look like the photo below, and will have a soft, yet firm texture. This is the part that you will use for your BBQ.
After you have your jackfruit prepared, you need to heat your sauce. I get the process started while I’m prepping my jackfruit, but that’s up to you. You will need a vegan brand of BBQ sauce. Whichever is your favorite, will work just fine. Heat it on medium heat, add the shredded jackfruit and let it simmer for a bit. I let it heat up until it is hot throughout, and then serve it. I didn’t time it, so I can’t tell you how long it will take…maybe 3-5 minutes?
Usually, I would add a slaw on top of the jackfruit when I assemble my sandwich, but I didn’t bring any vegan mayo to make it, so I skipped that this time. I toasted one of my home baked yeast rolls (recipe under “baking” in menu), loaded some of my BBQ jackfruit onto , and had my sandwich with a small salad.
One thing I have found is that any leftover BBQ jackfruit is actually tastier the next day, because the sauce really gets into the jackfruit. So, don’t worry if you make too much. It will be just as delicious tomorrow. Also, this works really well as a base for tacos! Bruce tasted it, and even though he isn’t a huge fan of BBQ, he really liked the texture. He asked me to look for other ways to make it, which I am happy to do. Keep an eye out for future jackfruit recipes.