This recipe is a winner, and it’s particularly good for feeding vegan guests. But even if you’re not vegan or vegetarian, it makes for a delicious meal. Ripe jackfruit is a bit sweet, giving this dish a subtle sweetness to offset the turmeric, ginger and garlic in the spice paste.
If you’re short on time and don’t feel like messing with fresh jackfruit, most Asian markets have a variety of canned jackfruit brands. I spent the extra time with this dish (we were having guests over for dinner), and used fresh jackfruit from one of our local Asian markets.
With that said, fresh jackfruit is absolutely nuts to work with. First, not all of the insides are edible. Within the fruit itself are fruit pods embedded within an inedible fibrous material. And within the edible fruit pods are very large, but edible, seeds. There are many recipes for cooking jackfruit seeds online, as are there tons of tutorials on how to harvest the fruit pods.
When you cut open a fruit pod to remove the seed, it’s reminiscent of cutting open a green pepper, in that the thick skin is the edible part, and other than the seed, its kind of empty in there. Another crazy thing is that there’s a VERY sticky sap within the fibrous material that encases the fruit pods. This stuff was so sticky that I had to use Goo Gone adhesive remover on my hands and knife to get them clean. Soap and water has no effect! Oiling your hands, knife and cutting board is supposed to facilitate and easy cleanup. Or use non-toxic Goo Gone.
Even though getting to the fruit pods is labor-intensive, it is a really cool process to cut your own jackfruit for this recipe. If you’re adventurous, you’ll be glad you tried it. Last, please note that most markets sell large sections of jackfruit, so you don’t have to buy a whole one. When buying, keep in mind that about 65% of the weight will be waste.
Whether you use fresh or canned jackfruit, this makes for an impressive meal.
This recipe is from Fire Islands: Recipes form Indonesia, by Eleanor Ford.
What you’ll need for the spice paste:
- 3-inch piece of turmeric, peeled, or two heaping teaspoons of turmeric powder
- 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled
- 2-inch piece of galangal, skin scrubbed (if you can’t find this at the store, don’t sweat it)
- 7 garlic cloves, peeled
- 7 small red Asian shallots, peeled
- 2 candlenuts* or 4 blanched almonds
- 2T neutral oil
*Do note eat these raw, you’ll get sick.
What you’ll need for the curry:
- 14 oz young jackfruit** (I think I used mature, didn’t find “young” jackfruit anywhere)
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 lemongrass stick, bruised and tied into a knot
- 2 lime leaves
- 0.75 cups coconut cream
- 1T fried shallots
- 2t palm sugar (dark, if possible) shaved
**This is the edible amount. Most canned jackfruit seems to be in a syrup, so compensate the overall weight. Over half the weight of fresh jackfruit is inedible.
What to do for the Bumbu spice paste:
Roughly chop all the fresh ingredients and put them in a food processor. Add the oil and process into a rough paste (it will look somewhat like oatmeal). Add a bit of water if the paste is too dry.
Turn the paste into a large frypan or wok and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often until fragrant and the oil begins to separate. Now you’re ready to cook the curry in the same frypan or wok. Immediately start making the curry without cooling down the pan.
What to do for the curry:
Add the jackfruit and 2 cups of stock to the spice-paste pan. If you’re using canned jackfruit, use maybe 1.75 cups, as the canned jackfruit takes less time to cook. Add the lemongrass, lime leaves and a large pinch of salt.
Bring the mixture to an “enthusiastic bubble” and cook it for 15 minutes. Stirring every 5 minutes. Check to see if the fruit is tender. Note that depending on the jackfruit you use, it can take up to an hour to cook so keep an eye on it and check for doneness every 7 or 8 minutes past the initial 15 minutes. It still tastes good if overcooked, but it tends to get mushy.
When the jackfruit is just done, turn up the heat to cook off some of the liquid, if it seems too watery. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the coconut cream. Remember that you don’t want the coconut cream to boil. Adjust the flavor to your liking with salt and palm sugar.
Serve hot, or cool and refrigerate. It will taste even better the next day.
Jackfruit curry goes well with plain, fluffy rice.