Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Thai Jackfruit Curry with Cashews
"We can share the curry, we can share the liime...we can share those cashews of yours, 'cause we done shared all of miiiine..."
Sorry, I couldn't help myself. Anyway, jackfruit is one of those "exotic" ingredients that occasionally pop up in recipes on vegan internet forums, and I have to confess that I never really knew what it was. A lot of people seem to use it to simulate things like pulled pork or taco meat, and since I never really liked that sort of stuff before I was vegan, the temptation to replicate it was nonexistent. Besides which, I'd never seen it in a store, so it hadn't occurred to me to explore its possibilities; in short, I didn't know jackfruit about jackfruit.
Well, on a recent trip to our truly epic local Indian market, I spied some in the frozen food section, thought, "What the hell?" and into the basket it went. Back at home, I went in search of a suitable recipe, and found a Thai-style curry that seemed like just the thing. While I was cooking, we did a bit of research, and learned that jackfruit grows on trees, is a distant cousin of the mulberry, and is the national fruit of Bangladesh. It's also fricking huge; in fact, it's the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, growing to a diameter of about 10 inches - impressive, no?
Knowledge may be power, but this information didn't tell me what to expect from the finished product, and I don't mind admitting that the whole cooking process was a pretty exciting proposition (hey, I take my thrills where I find them, okay?). In the end, it cooked up pretty quickly - on a par with other, more typical stirfry ingredients - with a texture that was somewhat starchy, not unlike a sweet potato, or maybe cassava root, but firmer and more fibrous. It isn't very strongly flavored, so it blended nicely with the lemongrass, basil and coconut elements; ladled on top of vermicelli noodles, it was a nice change from the more Indian-influenced curries I generally favor. Overall, a success; now I'm contemplating what interesting fate might be suitable for the package that's still in the freezer; suggestions are welcome!
Thai Jackfruit Curry with Cashews
~ 1 tbsp. Thai green curry paste
~ 3 tbsp. soy sauce
~ 1 tsp. hot chili oil
~ 1 tsp. dried lemongrass
~ 1 tsp. dried mint
~ 2 tsp. sugar
~ 1 tbsp. garlic, minced
~ 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
~ Juice and pulp of one large lime (or 2 small)
~ Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a bowl or beaker and set aside.
~ 2 tbsp. canola or other mild oil
~ 2 cups yellow onion, cut in large dice
~ 1 cup red bell pepper, sliced
~ 1 package frozen jackfruit, thawed and chopped into 1" pieces
~ 2 cups mushrooms, thickly sliced
~ 2 cups broccoli, cut into medium-size florets
~ 1/4 cup dry white wine
~ 1 cup coconut milk
~ 2 cups fresh basil leaves, chopped
~ 1 cup roasted cashews, halved
~ In a large, deep skillet or (preferably) wok, heat the oil and saute the onions over medium-high heat about 3 minutes, until softened but not clear.
~ Raise the heat to high, then add the bell pepper and jackfruit and stir-fry another few minutes. Add splashes of the wine as the pan starts to get dry.
~ Add the mushroom and broccoli, and continue cooking about 5-7 minutes, until the broccoli is bright green is the jackfruit has begun to brown.
~ Pour in the spice paste and the coconut milk, combine thoroughly, and cook 5 minutes more.
~ Add the chopped basil and cashews, mix thoroughly, and serve hot over jasmine rice or vermicelli noodles.