After work today, I dropped by the local Korean supermarket to pick up some sushi, and somehow, I ended up leaving with a giant hunk of jackfruit, among many things. (Honestly, it’s impossible for me to walk away from a grocery store with just one item.)
Jackfruit is one of those things that always seemed to have a presence while I was growing up, thanks to my Southeast Asian heritage. Grreen and spiky on the outside, and fragrant and yellow on the inside, jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit, and can reach up to 80 pounds. Check out how crazy big these suckers can get:
It’s kind of hard to describe what a jackfruit smells like–it’s definitely got an in-your-face odor that’s sort of a mix of bananas, pineapples, gasoline and rotten onions. I know, I’m really selling it, right? After you pull away the stringy fibers encasing the yellow, bulbous fruit, you take out the round seed inside. The reward? A bowl of sweet, delicious fruit. I won’t lie, it’s definitely an acquired taste, but for those who grew up with it, jackfruit can be near and dear to our hearts.
Even though it wasn’t exactly fresh off the tree, the fruit’s smell and taste brought back flashes of childhood memories: pieces of pungent jackfruit milk candy from the Philippines from my mom after returning from a visit with relatives; digging into a big bowl of halo-halo, a popular Filipino dessert made with shaved ice, evaporated milk, jackfruit pieces and other sweet fruits and beans; and licking jackfruit ice cream while on holiday in Singapore.
While I’ve never actually made anything with jackfruit myself, this blog post from Saveur-nominated blogger Jun Belen seems to sum up the fruit’s culinary potential perfectly. Stewed, baked, wrapped and fried, this versatile fruit can come in many forms–all of which can warm the heart, and take you back to a happy–although perhaps a little smelly–place. Funny how taste and memory work, doesn’t it?