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Korean Pulled Jackfruit Sandwich - Vegetarians Rejoice!

Some pretty fun stuff is on the horizon for this old gal and one of the things I really excited about is my stint as the guest chef at an upcoming drop in dinner at The Depanneur on Friday, October 16. Diners will be eating my BiBimBap Sopes  as well as a whack of banchan and I have been recipe testing like a mad woman for the last couple of weeks. The only thing that hadn't occurred to me, was that I was also going to need a vegetarian version of my dish as an entree.

A vegetarian option to pulled pork???  I work with a knife, not a wand!

I will be honest and admit that I was about to throw in the towel and just make a second, entirely different dish to feed to the vegetarians when I remembered reading about jackfruit and how it's THE go to ingredient to replace pulled pork in recipes. One google search revealed that this is absolutely a thing and by the way everyone raved about it,  I figured it was worth a try. Of course,  I was  highly skeptical because almost every other vegetarian meat substitution for something like this almost always leaves me flat. Don't get me wrong, I love tofu but tofu never tastes or feels like meat. Ever. I like tofu prepared to look and taste like tofu. Which it is. Tofu is great but tofu is not turkey or steak or a burger.

My first attempt was with jackfruit in syrup and let me just ask you to learn by my mistakes and do NOT buy jackfruit in syrup. Just don't do it. Find green jackfruit in either water or brine and you will be fine. Trust me. Go to an asian grocery store and if you can't find it, get someone there to help you find it. This is one of the few times that canned is actually better than fresh too, so just stick to the canned version.

I chose to make it in the crockpot so that I could just walk away while it cooked but you could also cook it on the stove in a heavy pot or a deep saute pan for about half an hour over med low heat. I prefer the convenience of using the crockpot myself.

So, this is the final product and I was shocked and amazed when both Shack and The Kid gobbled their sandwich up and declared it delicious. Then they then looked panicked and demanded reassurance that I wasn't going to stop making pulled pork with actual, you know, pork. Bottom line is that these are pretty serious pulled pork eaters and so if it gets their stamp of approval, I feel 100% confident recommending it as the perfect fake pulled pork for all those who, for whatever reason, cannot indulge in the noble pig.

Korean Pulled Jackfruit Sandwiches

For the Jackfruit:
2 289g (580ml) cans of green jackfruit in water or brine
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 tbls ketchup
1.5 tbls rice vinegar
2 tbls brown rice syrup or honey
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1" piece of ginger, sliced
1 tbls sesame oil
1 star anise

*Korean BBQ Sauce
**Asian Slaw
crusty buns

Strain the jackfruit and discard the liquid. It comes out of the can in triangle shaped wedges so you just want to half or cut into three spears, core and all.

Put the jackfruit in the in the crockpot, mix the rest of the ingredients and pour over the jackfruit, stir to mix well and cook on high for about 3 hours or low for about 5 or so. Keep an eye on it to make sure all the liquid doesn't completely evaporate and if it starts to dry out, stop cooking it or at least throw in about 1/4 cup of water.

It really looks like pulled pork, no?
ItAfter about 3 hours, you will be left with just enough liquid that it isn't dry so mash the jackfruit lightly with a potato masher to break it up.

Preheat the oven to 400F

Spread the jackfruit out onto an oiled baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes. Take it out of the oven, pour enough of the bbq sauce on it to coat it lightly, spread it back out and cook for another 10 minutes until you start to see some brown bits - it will really look like pulled pork by this point.

Remove from the oven and toss with more bbq sauce to coat well.

To assemble the sandwiches:
Butter the buns and toast them on a hot pan.
To make the sandwiches, pile a bunch of jackfruit on the bottom bun, top with a big spoonful of slaw and then drizzle with more bbq sauce and top with the lid of the bun.

*Korean BBQ Sauce
you can make this a few days ahead of time and keep in the fridge

1 tbls canola oil
1/4 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 tbls tomato paste
1 cup of tomato puree
1/4 cup brown rice syrup, honey or brown sugar
1 tbls molasses
2-4  tbls gochujang (more if you want it really spicy)
3 tbls hoisin sauce
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp liquid smoke

Saute the onion in the hot oil in a saucepan over med heat for about 5 minutes. Add in the ginger and garlic and saute for another minute before adding in the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine, cover and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Uncover, give it another good stir and simmer for 10 more minutes.
Blend with an immersion blender after it's cooled to room temperature and strain it through a fine, mesh strainer, discarding the solids.
Keep in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

** Asian Slaw
adapted from my Asian Ponzu Slaw

3 tbls rice wine vinegar
1 tbls mirin
1 tbls sesame oil
1 tbls ponzu sauce
pinch kosher salt
1/2 small nappa cabbage, shredded
1 small carrot julienned
1 asian pear, julienned
2 tbls sesame seeds

Mix together rice wine vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, ponzu sauce and salt.
Toss the shredded cabbage with the carrot and pear, toss with the dressing and then mix in the sesame seeds and store in the fridge until you need it.

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