Thai Jackfruit Curry

 

After my success with Ethiopian Jackfruit W’et, the bar was set high for my second experience with jackfruit. Copious amounts of Internet research revealed precious little that seemed able to rise to the occasion. I had almost thrown in the towel and conceded defeat to console myself in another w’et (a fantastic consolation, I think!) when inspiration struck. The savoury jackfruit recipes I could find could be neatly summed as follows: mock pulled pork, a dish that I have never liked; a coconut-based Sri Lankan curry, a coconut-based Malay dish, and a Thai curry. Aside from the pulled pork, all three had strikingly similar spice profiles with variable vegetable additions. So why not combine them all and add my own twist? And that’s exactly what I did!

I created a Thai Red/Green Curry (the Steve Smith Curry?) with a homemade curry paste, taking from the Sri Lankan, Malay, and Thai spice profiles. I simmered the curry paste in a bit of coconut milk to let the flavours develop and then dumped in all my vegetable additions. The result was sheer brilliance. This curry was nice and spicy with a kick – it’s one that you don’t think is that bad and are just reaching for the Sriracha when your eyes start to water. (Reduce number of chilis or seed them if this doesn’t appeal to you!) The jackfruit, bell peppers, snap peas, cherry tomatoes, and eggplant make the dish colourful. The variance in textures of the vegetables is also a delight to eat: every spoonful is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get! I especially love cherry tomatoes in coconut-based curries. I add them right near the end so they are cooked enough to be warm but not enough for the skins to split. Then when you eat them you get a burst of cheery tomato in your mouth. The jackfruit in the dish assumes the curry flavour much like eggplant but is firmer in texture. I would highly recommend using jackfruit instead of tofu in this curry if you are serving the dish to a crowd who are not fans of tofu, no matter how delicious the dish is. I served it over a bed of lightly steamed kale, but the more traditional way would be over vermicelli or rice. This dish exceeded the high bar set by the w’et with a completely different approach, style, and texture. Yet again jackfruit shone through, making me wonder what took me so long to pick up the can at the Asian grocery in the first place!

Thai Jackfruit Curry

Curry Paste:
3 spring onions, sliced
1-3 Thai red chili
1 tbsp. lemongrass, minced
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
4-5 Kaffir lime leaves, cut into strips
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. lime juice
2 tbsp. vegetarian fish sauce (optional; can substitute with soy sauce if you prefer)
½ cup fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp. light soy sauce (for gluten free use Tamari soy sauce)
1 tsp. dark soy sauce (optional)
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. brown sugar OR ½ tsp. Sucanat
¼ can coconut milk

Directions:
1) Place all ingredients in food processor. Puree until paste forms.

Jackfruit Curry:
1 can jackfruit in brine, drained, or 1 package frozen unripe, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tsp. peanut or canola oil
¼ cup white wine or vegetable broth
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
generous handful cherry tomatoes
½-¾ can coconut milk, depending on personal sauce preference

Optional garnish:
¾ cup unsalted cashews, dry roasted
fresh basil, cut into ribbons

Additional vegetable suggestions: bok choy, mushrooms, snap peas, green beans, eggplant

Directions:
1) Preheat large pan with oil. Pour in curry paste and stir-fry until fragrant, ~1min.
2) Add jackfruit. Stir-fry until well saturated with sauce.
3) Add the vegetable stock. Stir and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 5 minutes.
4) Add ½ can coconut milk, plus all green vegetables (except basil). Simmer 3-4 minutes.
5) Add the cherry tomatoes. Simmer 2-3min; avoid overcooking vegetables!
6) Turn off heat and stir in cashews.
7) Garnish with fresh basil; serve over rice.

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