the taste space

Carolina BBQ Jackfruit Pulled “Pork” Wraps with Pickled Red Onions

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by janet @ the taste space on March 7, 2012

Rob likes to have dinner themes for his birthday parties. Last year, it was Japanese.

We had planned on going Ethiopian this year, as it is the theme of our current neighbourhood. However, we changed our minds at the last minute because I wasn’t in the mood to cook up 5 different cooked dishes.

While I can dream up menus for days on end, they involve vegan dishes. Rob knew that some of our guests might balk at the lack of meat, so he offered to make a Southwestern Pulled Brisket in the slow cooker. With his meal chosen, I crafted the remainder of the menu with it in mind.

Therefore, this year it was a hodge podge of Southern US and Mexican dishes, foreshadowing our next, next move to Texas in 2013. My (not so) discerning palate can’t tell the difference between Texan and Carolina BBQ styles, but I can tell you how delicious everything turned out.

I was initially hesitant, but Rob encouraged me to try my hand at jackfruit carnitas.  We had all the fixings for great tacos for the brisket, so why not have another filling, too?

I eventually settled on a recipe for Carolina BBQ-inspired pulled “pork” from Jessica.

Jackfruit is a fruit from Southeast Asia. Rob tells me it tastes like bubble gum. While the ripe fruit is sweet, you can buy canned young jackfruit in brine, which is quite flavourless. It has been used as a meat substitute due to its texture. After being cooked, it pulls apart into stringy bits akin to pulled pork and beef brisket.

While Rob’s brisket took 8 hours in the slow cooker, my BBQ jackfruit pulled “pork” took an hour, tops.

They key of the recipe is the spice blend, and here we used a plethora of spices to capture a Southern BBQ flavour: sweet smoked paprika, Aleppo chili flakes, mustard, tomato and red pepper pastes, tamarind and vinegar for some tang and sweetness from the maple syrup (yes, that’s 4/8 of my favourite ingredients in one sauce!). Such a glorious BBQ flavour with a bit of a kick. Chile heads, again, feel free to use the suggested cayenne, but I though it was plenty spicy without it.  Dry frying brought out the flavours from the dry spices, then a slow simmer expanded the saucy flavours. Baking it firmed up the jackfruit so that it was more akin to pork.

As the jackfruit bakes, or if you are more inclined to make the brisket (it had rave, rave reviews, btw, and Rob loved its sheer simplicity to prepare), make some pickled red onions. I know many people shun fresh red onions, and a quick marinade in vinegar with some salt and sugar can really bring out their flavour. We used the recipe suggested by Deb.

Both the brisket and BBQ jackfruit pulled pork was served with an assortment of toppings – shredded Romaine, chopped tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, sliced cabbage, avocado and the pickled red onions. While we had roti and pitas for guests, I opted to make wraps with Romaine lettuce leaves. The jackfruit was so flavourful that you didn’t need so much per wrap. While Rob’s 3 lbs of beef brisket easily fed 10 people, my 20 oz of jackfruit served more like 2-4 people, depending on how many toppings you added.

Next time, I think I will try my hand at socca taco shells, which Laura made for her jackfruit tacos.


This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Cristina, to this week’s Healthy Vegan Fridays, and to this week’s Weekend Wellness.

Carolina BBQ Jackfruit Pulled “Pork” Wraps

20 oz can young jackfruit, in brine
1/2 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I did not use! this was spicy enough without it!)
1/2 tsp ground yellow mustard
1/2 tsp black pepper (I used white pepper)
1/8 tsp garlic granules
1/8 tsp onion granules
1 tsp salt (or to taste)

2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp red pepper paste (or substitute with more tomato paste)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp canola or other neutral oil
1/2 tsp tamarind concentrate
1/4 cup water
2 tsp maple syrup or agave

taco toppings – shredded cabbage, chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, alfalfa sprouts and pickled red onions (see below)

1. Preheat oven to 400F.

2. In a small non-stick skillet over medium-low heat, add onion and garlic. Heat until caramelized and browned, around 9-10 minutes.

3. Drain and rinse the jackfruit well. Remove the solid centre pieces (see here for photos). Place jackfruit in a medium bowl.

4. Add Aleppo chili flakes, paprika, mustard, black pepper, onion and garlic granules and salt to the jackfruit. Sir to coat well.

5. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add spiced jackfruit. Heat until the spices are toasted and fragrant, around 5 minutes. Do not burn. Scrape any stuck on bits.

6. Meanwhile, in a small cup, mix together the tomato paste, red pepper paste, vinegar, oil, tamarind concentrate, water and maple syrup. Stir until well mixed. Add to jackfruit and deglaze the pan.

7. Once the onions are caramelized, add to the wet jackfruit mixture. Simmer jackfruit in its sauce for 15-30 minutes, until softened. Use a fork to shred the jackfruit into stringy bits.

8. You could stop here, but if you want a firmer consistency more similar to pork, spread hte mixture evenly on a silpat-lined cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes until slightly dried out.

9. Serve on a sandwich or as a taco with lots of fixins. I served mine on a large leaf of Romaine lettuce, topped with shredded cabbage, chopped tomatoes, sliced avocado, alfalfa sprouts and pickled red onions (see below for recipe).

Serves 2-3. Maybe, depending how generous you are your your toppings.

Pickled Red Onions

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup cold water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar or agave
1 squirt of sriracha (or to taste, Tabasco is recommended)
1 red onion, halved and sliced into very thin rings

1. In a small bowl, vinegars with 1/2 cup of cold tap water. Stir in salt, the sugar and the hot sauce. Add the sliced onions and let sit for at least one hour. This can be made in advance and taste better after a longer marinade.

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44 Responses

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  1. Matt said, on March 7, 2012 at 6:50 AM

    That looks sooo amazing!!

  2. Rob said, on March 7, 2012 at 7:27 AM

    Yep, it was great :)

  3. sprint2thetable said, on March 7, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    I’m so glad you went for it! It’s time consuming, but worth every second. I bet it was a HUGE hit!

    Those socca wraps were actually not bad to make. Let me know if you try them out. Thanks for the shout out!

  4. Natalie said, on March 7, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    Wow, I’ve never heard of jackfruit as a meat substitute, but it looks just like meat – I was actually confused when I opened your post and first scrolled through the pictures without reading! I always want to like pulled pork because it looks so good covered in sauce, but I’ve only tried it once and thought it was disgusting (probably because I hate pork) – I’ll have to try this version, thanks!

  5. Fuss Free Helen said, on March 7, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    it looks remarkably meaty, just like pulled pork. I honestly thought it was a meaty photo!

  6. Ashley said, on March 7, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    I neeeeeeeeed to find that jackfruit in brine!!! This sounds amazing. Did anyone else try your jackfruit dish or did everyone stick to the pork?

    • janet @ the taste space said, on March 7, 2012 at 8:48 PM

      Check out T&T, Ashley! Everyone sampled the jackfruit but left most of it for me… they mainly ate the pork and the mushrooms sliders (recipe to come).

  7. luminousvegans said, on March 7, 2012 at 8:31 PM

    This looks so much like real pulled pork. I’ve seen people using jackfruit for this and now after seeing your post I think I may have to actually go and try this.

  8. Joanne said, on March 7, 2012 at 10:54 PM

    Wait wait wait. back up a minute. You’re moving to TEXAS?!?!?

    the jackfruit looks delicious! I’ve really been meaning to try it as a meat sub…I’ve heard such good things!

  9. Zoa said, on March 8, 2012 at 12:32 AM

    Like everybody else, I have to try this. It looks so good. But jackfruit is so weird, and so nauseating in its fresh form. But maybe it’s like cashews, poison when raw, ambrosial when cooked just a little. Yours certainly falls into the “ambrosial” category, image-wise!

    • janet @ the taste space said, on March 8, 2012 at 9:24 AM

      Yeah, they had some fresh jackfruit this week at the grocery store and Rob told me it tastes like it smells… it wasn’t particularly appetizing, to tell you the truth. We didn’t buy any. He tells me when he had it fresh in ?Samoa it was very nice but who knows about these imports. :P The young jackfruit doesn’t really taste like much, to be honest.. it is all about the sauce. :)

      • Genevieve said, on March 8, 2012 at 3:47 PM

        I tried fresh jackfruit in India and I loved it….then I tried some frozen jackfruit from an Asian market here and the smell was definitely hard to get over! But I still liked the taste! I never would have thought to use it in a savory BBQ recipe – this is so creative!

  10. tasteofbeirut said, on March 8, 2012 at 8:38 AM

    Not sure I have tried jackfruit, probably not; I especially like the idea of wrapping it all in lettuce, this is how tabbouleh salad is eaten here!

  11. Connie Fletcher said, on March 8, 2012 at 8:48 AM

    I’ve made barbequed jackfruit several times and it’s WONDERFUL!!!

  12. Ricki said, on March 9, 2012 at 12:11 AM

    Would you believe I’ve had a can of jackfruit in my cupboard for almost a year, and I could never figure out which recipe to try with it? I have found my jackfruit nirvana!! I am going to make this. Can’t wait. Thanks so much for submitting to WW this week! :)

  13. [...] Like hummus, everyone has their favourite guac recipe. I haven’t experimented much but I loved this creamy guacamole with edamame.  You see, I don’t buy avocados that often. They are expensive in Canada. I know they are ridiculously cheaper in the US, especially in the Southern states. But for some reason, they have been on sale recently so when Rob went grocery shopping, he came home with over 10 avocados. We were obviously making guacamole for his party! [...]

  14. [...] The Taste Space shared Carolina BBQ Pulled “Pork” Wraps with Pickled Onions [...]

  15. [...] So, the winning dish that night was the mushroom and tempeh burger and that is what inspired me to try my hand at Raw Sweet Potato Mushroom “Sliders” for Rob’s birthday party. [...]

  16. [...] by the use of jackfruit over at the taste space and by the Midwest vaygun, I decided to try out this vegan delicacy. This is our [...]

  17. Eunice said, on March 20, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    This looks amazingly like real pork. Funny that I stumbled onto this recipe as I was craving jackfruit last night.
    Thanks so much :)

  18. [...] 2. Carolina BBQ Jackfruit Pulled “Pork” Wraps with Pickled Red Onions [...]

  19. [...] The problem with freshly dried beans (ie from Rancho Gordo) is that they can easily be overcooked! Rob’s slow cooker brisket was probably the biggest recipe winner. Our year with the slow cooker has taught us that we [...]

  20. [...] Tacos made with “BBQ jackfruit meat“ [...]

  21. [...] my pantry prior to this move, I plan on eating through the remainder over the next year before our BIG move to the US. Expect to see more recipes with kelp noodles! What are your favourite ways of eating [...]

  22. [...] I like wraps, especially when wrapped with a green leaf like Swiss chard, kale, collard or even Romaine lettuce. Hearty greens don’t go soggy. My leaves are usually small enough for bite-size snacks, [...]

  23. [...] I do, which is where he gets his occasional fix of meat. If we Rob cooks meat at home, it is for our guests.  Rob’s last birthday party kind of had me in a tizzy because I didn’t want to cook [...]

  24. heathergfc said, on July 8, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    I love it! Thanks so much for visiting my blog and for giving me this link! What a fabulous recipe! Johnna’s makes use of a bottled barbecue sauce for convenience. I’m so glad to know how to do it from scratch now. Thanks!!

    • janet @ the taste space said, on July 8, 2012 at 4:51 PM

      I still have one can of jackfruit left – I should dig out my other bookmarked recipes. I think I have a tuna cake somewhere for something completely different. :)

  25. [...] Unless we are making a buffet of food, I try to make meals that I will also be able to eat. That means I make vegan dishes. For picky omnivores, we may opt to supplement with meat. [...]

  26. Gabby @ the veggie nook said, on August 20, 2012 at 5:58 PM

    Such a great recipe- so crazy how much it looks like meat!

    Thanks for contributing this to HVF :)

  27. everydayvegangirl said, on August 23, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    I love this recipe you linked up! You don’t see quite enough jackfruit out there and is something I have been wanting to experiment more with!

    I am going to feature your recipe on this week’s Healthy Vegan Friday as my pick for “most creative”. Hope to see you again for another round of HVF tomorrow!

  28. [...] is partially due to Terry’s influence when I bought frozen pandan, Korean pepper flakes, canned jackfruit, freekeh and annatto seeds, among others. I can credit her with discovering many new favourite [...]

  29. [...] from 2012 was equally as popular (#1 below) and it wasn’t the one with the most comments (Carolina BBQ Jackfruit Pulled “Pork” Wraps with Pickled Red Onions gets that [...]

  30. [...] we kept it simple by meeting with friends at Rob’s favourite resto in our neighbourhood. No jackfruit “pulled pork” wraps or pineapple and cucumber guacamole this year. While The Beet has possibly my favourite desserts in [...]

  31. […] With the boon of (vegan) kimchi, it was only a matter of time. Beer-Soaked Sweet Potato Fries + BBQ Jackfruit meat + kimchi + baked tofu. Rob added mayo to his which is what he photographed. He took all the photos […]

  32. […] by the use of jackfruit over at the taste space and by the Midwest vaygun, I decided to try out this vegan delicacy. This is our […]

  33. […] jackfruit can make a great meat substitute for vegetarians. Check out this awesome recipes for jackfruit mock pork wraps! For info on how to handle jackfruit, check out this great visual guide […]

  34. […] else makes it for you, but this was pure gastronomical bliss. Beer-Soaked Sweet Potato Fries + BBQ Jackfruit meat + kimchi + baked tofu, a spin-off of one of our favourite dishes in […]


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