Wellness Wednesday: can pulled pork be vegan?

A disclaimer to start this post: I’m not vegan or even vegetarian, but I don’t eat much meat (I never cook it at home, unless it’s boiling chicken for a foster cat with an upset tummy!) and given the myriad ethical and environmental issues that meat eating raises, I have great respect for those who have adopted a diet that is healthier for individuals and the planet. I also have great admiration for those who are coming up with vegie alternatives to traditionally meaty dishes. So when a friend posted this article about vegetable pulled pork on Facebook, I remembered having eaten a delicious curry containing jackfruit (at the time I had wondered what the meat was that I was eating, it was so similar in texture and flavour). Another friend put up a recipe for her version of the dish, and I decided to give it a go.

“Leanne’s vegan pulled pork

  • 1 can green jackfruit in brine
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon brown or coconut sugar
  • smoke water to taste
  • chipotle chillis if you like it hot, if not – leave them out – play around with the spices to your own liking.

Drain and rinse the jackfruit – soak it for a while to dilute the “briny” flavour – tease out the fibres a bit – heat olive oil in saucepan and brown onion with dry spices, add all other ingredients and a little water, simmer on very low heat until it reaches a good consistency (about 20 minutes) – eat with good bread or on roast potatoes (yum). Hope you like it!”

Being somewhat of a lazy cook and not owning a smoker, I didn’t smoke the water, and I didn’t add the chilli. So my version turned out more like a tomato stew – and didn’t taste at all like pork! But it was still extremely eatable, although I think a bit more spicy heat would have made it better. (In other words, I shouldn’t have been so lazy and should have been a bit more brave about adding chilli!)

I had a go at another jackfruit dish yesterday, using a recipe I made up myself.

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Leeyong’s Mexican-ish vegan pulled pork with beans

  • 1 can green jackfruit in brine
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped roughly
  • wakame leaf – as much as you like, soaked in about half a cup of water for a while
  • coconut oil
  • spinach or other greens, plus rice or another carb if you like, to serve

Rinse and drain the jackfruit and tease the fibres out a bit with a fork.

In a saucepan on medium heat, fry the garlic in coconut oil, then add the jackfruit and stir to coat for a few minutes. Add the wakame leaf and water and simmer for a few minutes. Then add the can of beans (don’t rinse the beans as the liquid in the can will help thicken up the “stew”) and simmer until the liquid has evaporated to your liking.

Serve on a bed of spinach! And I got some roti to eat with it, but you can serve it with something more Mexican or whatever you like.

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It turns out that this doesn’t taste like pork either, but is also quite eatable. You can make it without the wakame if you prefer – the reason I added it was because I thought it might create a smoky, “umami” flavour, but I’m not sure that it really did. It’s good for you though, so if you have some, chuck it in!

Has anyone else tried making vegie pulled pork from jackfruit? How did you go? I am speculating that it might be better if fresh young jackfruit were used instead as it would be more chewy than the canned stuff, and would perhaps absorb flavours better, particularly if slow-cooked for several hours. But it’s much easier to grab a can of jackfruit at your local Asian grocery than trying to lug home the largest treeborne fruit in the world. And the lady at this blog says the canned stuff is actually better!

On a side note, I recently heard or read something about jackfruit’s potential as a wheat flour substitute and how farming it could lift people in that particular country (maybe Jamaica? I can’t remember where, unfortunately) out of poverty as it grows there naturally and easily. If you’re interested, you can read a similar article here.

 

 

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