My three month lull in recipe-posting has come to an end, that is, if you can call this a ‘recipe’. It’s probably more of an introduction to an interesting food, than a recipe per se. Come to think of it, that marshmallow post wasn’t a recipe either. Whatever.
If you love the flavour of banana, mango, papaya, lychee, longan or pineapple, you’d like jackfruit, because all these fruits have been likened to the multifaceted flavour of jackfruit. But the good thing is that it doesn’t have that gross mushiness of banana and papaya, or the tart tongue-burning effect of pineapple. The texture is a bit harder to describe, but I can tell you, if you are fond of peeling off the little peely cheese sticks, one by one, you’ll love doing that to jackfruit. So imagine strands of peely cheese, with a mouthfeel not unlike firm longan. Jackfruits come in an interesting morphology: the main eating component are lunar-shaped units, which, after gauging out of the very thick skin (a process which would require the barrier of gloves, as they produce an incredibly sticky ‘resin’), leaves many strands of fibrous thingies still attached and resembling a bed of anemone, edible, but requiring a knife to cut out and also very chewy). The main drawback lies in the aftertaste: a rather pungent odour that lingers for a day, and on rare occasions, jackfruits can have a foul, detergent-like taste.
The seeds are also edible, surprisingly (isn’t googling random things so good as a procrastination tool?!). They are similar to chestnuts, but less moist, less starchy, less sweet and a little more savoury/acidic, with a hint of jackfruit notes. Every time you eat a jackfruit sac, one of these little seeds, with a beautiful pinewood-like pattern, are encased within. Pop it out of the membraned pouch and rinse with water; there will still be a sticky film of slime, that’s okay. Place in a container, storing it for several days (up to two weeks, and the seeds were still fine, but they become a washed-out ash wood grain rather than the deep pinewood when fresh, as the photo juxtaposes), until you have accumulated enough seeds to cook with. I boiled them in water for 10-20 minutes (more towards 20, if you like it a bit more soft, and the acidic flavour also fades with more cooking)… but apparently you can roast them or stud them on rice in the rice cooker (works well), and used in the manner of potatoes for mash or curries.
A most peculiar thing happens to the water it’s boiled in: it turns to a crimson liquid like it’s for X-ray developing, which must have leached out of the mahogany-hued inner skin (isn’t it amazing how the colours of the seed can exhibit features of such a variety of wood species?) (I don’t think X-ray developer is actually crimson-coloured. Being a dental assistant, I should know it’s actually brownish. But oh well, first imagery that came to my mind for crimson water was X-ray liquid. My mind is rather strange).
There are two layers of husk: the tough outer husk that you need to peel after it’s cooked (which is usually effortless with just your hands, because it usually cracks a little when dried raw (as you can see from the photo above)), and the thin skin that’s edible, albeit chewy (like the peanut skin).
A word of warning though: like baked beans, it is recommended this food is consumed in well-ventilated areas.