Malaysian Jackfruit – 8 Suggestions On How To Use It

What does a Malaysian like me think of when I think of jackfruit? I think of a fully-ripened, golden-yellow, firm-fleshed super-sweet, delicious fruit – described elsewhere as something like a cross between a pineapple and a mango. 

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So it came as quite a shock to me when I was alerted to Zoe Williams’s March 2019 piece in The Guardian UK: “Five years ago, jackfruit was just a spectacularly ugly, smelly, unfarmed, unharvested pest-plant native to India. Some people ate it, but only if they had nothing better to eat.” 

Rather than a failed attempt at humour, it made me realise for the first time, that most Westerners only know jackfruit in its young, unripened form. My suspicions were further confirmed by this line in a Yahoo, UK article (okay, maybe it’s just the Brits) on how to use jackfruit: “Jackfruits have a slightly sweet but mostly neutral flavor”. Erm, no.

I’ve also come across multiple occasions where Westerners have mistakenly identified jackfruit as durian (<cough> Paul Gray <cough>). 

The fact is, the dominant iteration of jackfruit to hundreds of millions of people in Southeast Asia (not to mention South Asia), is not the flavourless, fibrous, basically colourless “pest plant” aka young jackfruit that vegans use as a meat substitute. 

For sure, we have Malaysian recipes that call for young jackfruit (I even have a recipe for young jackfruit curry on my website) – but that’s not the default idea of jackfruit most Malaysians are familiar with.  

We eat our jackfruit mostly in its ripened form (by the way, you can now find chilled ripe Malaysian jackfruit here in Australia – and if you’re anything like me, you’ll never eat the canned variety again once you’ve tried fresh Malaysian jackfruit).

Apart from eating it straight, we sometimes we make sweet snacks with it – its flavour and texture lends itself to many uses, from simmering it in a sauce, to dipping it in batter and frying it, to stuffing it with sticky rice, to baking it in a cake. I’ve used it to make kaya (replacing pandan with pureed jackfruit) and diced it into small pieces and added it to my pancake batter.

If you’d like to get your hands on my full tipsheet on ways to use Malaysian jackfruit, just sign up to my email list at MalaysianChefs.com/Recipes – and it’ll hit your inbox soon.

 

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