You Can Tune a Piano, but You Can’t Tuna Fish…

clean eating

Is this chicken, what I have, or is this fish? I know it’s tuna, but it says ‘Chicken of the Sea.’
Untitled

It’s neither, my unbelievable confused 90s flashback!

Since I’ve become a vegetarian over two years ago, my main concern and obsession has become that of finding a substantial protein replacement outside of the boring bean or tofu options. The focus has been to make and perfect those that closely mimic beef or chicken. Toooootally forgot about tuna. Completely spaced on that.

You don’t really think about tuna until you pass a Subway “restaurant” and memories of questionable sandwiches start flooding your consciousness and so it stayed on the back-burner until somewhat recently. I came across a Buzzfeed-type list of 20-something meat alternatives and while most of them were hackneyed “recreations” or “deconstructions” of beans and/or tofu, one of them was not! It was then that I discovered Jackfruit.

::cue angels, harps and sweet spotlights::

ripe_jackfruit

Praise be.

I’ve got three recipes on my blog utilizing the stuff so far – it’s about time you knew what the actual fruit looks like. I Google so you don’t have to.

Things you need to know about the fruit – it smells and sort of tastes like Juicy Fruit to some people. I’ve heard that the gum’s flavor was actually based on this prickly mass. Ew. Fret not – once cooked and flavored properly, it’ll take on whatever you add to it. Remember, we’re in this relationship strictly for the texture.

You can buy it yourself and break it open for its fruit if you want to go Amish on these recipes but they’re typically expensive and a bit hard to find unless you have a good Asian neighborhood/grocery store like we do in NYC. Those neighborhoods end up resulting in my most exciting shopping experiences. Yeah, get old and domesticated and you’ll find yourself saying shit like that, too. Turns out you can buy jackfruit in a can at any hipster trap as well at the aforementioned Asian grocers.

The downside? Jackfruit contains very little protein. I hope that list thinks long and hard about the wrong impression under which it left me. Douche.

Sort of beat as far as an equal replacement for sure, but when you miss certain textures or foods, it does the best possible job. It crushes recipes of anything meaty in your life that was once shredded or pulled.

Give me the recipe and quit your jibber jabber? I feel you.

BASIC recipe:

  • 1 can jackfruit (in brine, not syrup)
  • Half an onion (or more… Whatever)
  • Oil (I use avocado for its high smoke point and nutrients)
  • 1 teaspoon kelp granules** (can be found damn near everywhere now)
  • Mayo (I use Just Mayo. “I knew about it before the FDA got on its case” – Hipster)
  • salt-n-pepa to taste

What do I do??

Heat up oil in a frying pan on medium/high heat. Add onions and sauté for 5-8 minutes until they start to brown a bit, stirring every now and then. While that’s happening, drain the jackfruit and mash the pieces with your hands, effectively shredding them to look like tuna. Once the onions are zenned-out and in a good place, add the jackfruit, kelp granules and salt and pepper to taste, mix and let it cook a while until the moisture has evaporated. Let it cool completely and add mayo.

I titled the recipe BASIC because you can add a bit of anything else to amp up the flavor if you’d like. Some good options are garlic (to be cooked with the jackfruit) lemon juice, mustard (powdered or kindergarten paint), parsley, paprika, cayenne pepper, celery, etc. Go nuts.

**This stuff is made of seaweed and gives everything a fishy taste of the sea. I use Organic Maine Coast Sea Vegetables Kelp Granules. Lifted from a site selling the brand I use for a quick Mr. Rogers learn-about:

“Kelp” is a common name that includes many seaweed species. Sea vegetables contain a wide array of minerals and trace elements absorbed readily from seawater. They deliver these minerals in colloidal, chelated forms for easier absorption in the body. This kelp blend (Alaria esculenta and Ascophyllum nodosum) is sustainably harvested in the nutrient-dense Gulf of Maine using Organic Standards for wild sea vegetables. They are then dried and milled-nothing added or removed. Both are “brown seaweeds:, rich in minerals, iodine, and a host of bioactive compounds including fucoidans, antioxidants and alginates.

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