By Dennis Linden
This month’s unusual recipe of jackfruit tacos was submitted by Dan Tepe in Melissa’s Sales Department.
Jackfruit comes from the jackfruit tree, a relative of the breadfruit family and grows exclusively in Southeast Asia. The name “jackfruit” comes from the Portuguese word “jaca”, which is actually a mispronunciation of the Malaysian word for the fruit, “chakka” by 16th century Portuguese explorers. So if you were expecting a cool story about a guy named Jack, sorry. Dan came upon this recipe by happenstance:
“My wife decided to go vegan for Lent.” Dan explained. “One weekend, while out shopping, we stopped at a food truck that had these Jack Fruit Tacos on the menu. They were so good that we found a recipe online and have since tweaked it to better match our own taste preferences, which took some tasty experimenting! I hope you enjoy the results!”
While jackfruit is only grown commercially in Southeast Asia, its popularity has grown around the world as the fruit grows prolifically by nature and is very versatile since it can be eaten both raw or in cooked recipes. The fruit is the shape of an oblong honeydew melon or mango with smooth bumps on its green surface, but think XXXL in size. While jackfruit can grow to be 100 lbs., each containing hundreds of sectioned fruit called pods and one tree can yield as much as three tons of fruit in a season, most commercial crops range in size from 15 lbs. to 30 lbs. for easier handling.
The bright yellow interior fruit, the jackfruit pod, is about the size of a golf ball. Each has a dense, almost meaty texture with a cellular construction similar to chicken or beef that looks like it could be shredded, which is exactly what Dan did for his recipe. Jackfruit flavor is definitely tropical and a bit complex. There are hints of pineapple, mango, lychee and banana; some say it is reminiscent of Juicy Fruit or Tutti-Frutti gum! The flavor is incredible, but the work required to break down the entire fruit into pods is daunting. Melissa’s packaged Jackfruit Pods are a convenient alternative -- all flavor and no prep work!
The rest of Dan’s taco filling ingredients support the fruity flavor of the jackfruit. Both sweet and smoked paprika, sweet red onion and aromatic coriander’s spicy-sweet citrus notes--all complement the jackfruit’s light, tropical flavor profile. And to give the palate something to think about, Dan turns up the heat with a dash of chili powder, three heaping TBS of chipotle sauce and some peeled garlic for good measure!
Dan Tepe has been a key member Melissa’s sales staff for 17 years. His daily role is to tend to the supply needs of a group of Melissa’s retail customers as well as keeping them informed of the latest trends in the marketplace.
“The most interesting and most challenging part of my job is building the trust and confidence of our customers into a mutually successful partnership,” Dan said. “That means being one step ahead of the seasonal conditions and changes that might affect each customer’s business as well as being able to communicate that market information in a timely manner. Once trust has been built by providing good useable information, the client is more apt to listen and be receptive to, for instance, suggestions of adding new items into the mix. In the end, even with all the technical support we all use to service our customers across the country, this is still a business of personal relationships.”
Dan is married to wife, Leslie, and man-servant (walker) to their dog Ayven. Dan is quite active in his Catholic faith, being a Master of Ceremonies every Sunday at his local parish. He also is Vice President of the Rancho Cucamonga QUAKES Booster Club [@QuakeBoosters]. The Quakes are a minor league baseball team affiliated with the L.A. Dodgers. As Dan puts it: “We help raise future Dodgers from pups!” Sounds like an opportunity for a Melissa’s kiosk waiting to happen, Mr. VP!
Servings: 6 Tacos
2 tbsp olive oil
1½ Red Onions, chopped
4 cloves Melissa’s Peeled Garlic, minced
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp sweet paprika
3- 8oz. pkgs. Melissa’s Jackfruit
3 TBS hot chipotle sauce
Water – as necessary
1 TBS tamari soy sauce
1 TBS Melissa’s Agave Sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 corn or flour tortillas
½ green cabbage, shredded
1 ripe avocado, diced
In a large pan first sauté the chopped onion, minced garlic and spices in olive oil for 3-4 minutes, until onions turn translucent. Then add in the jackfruit and chipotle sauce.
Once the jackfruit starts to heat up, start breaking the pieces apart in such a way to resemble pulled pork. If the pan contents get too dry, add a little water. Sauté for about 5 minutes, then add tamari soy sauce and agave, a few more TBS of water and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste, let cool.
Taco assembly: Starting with flour or corn tortilla, put some shredded cabbage down first, then the jackfruit mixture over the cabbage, then top with the avocado slices and a sprinkle of lime juice. [For extra heat add a little more chipotle sauce!]