I have to say, when I first heard that Tami was thinking of giving up hosting Food Network Fridays I was pretty disappointed. I completely understand why she didn’t want to continue with it but I was so glad she started it and I loved the challenge and creativity it encouraged. Well don’t say I wasn’t thrilled when I heard that Kelly was going to take it over and add her own flare to it. Instead of cooking a specific recipe and posting about it on a specific day, Kelly has revamped the idea and turned it into the Food Network Monthly Cookalong! Every month Kelly will pick a theme, it could be a tv show, a chef, a dish, anything! Then all of us who want to take part have a month to post about anything related to the theme. At the beginning of the next month Kelly will post a round-up of all the different entries for that month, so you have one neat and tidy place to find all the amazing dishes that were made. Pretty rad right?
This months theme is Eat Street, a Food Network show that travels around North American putting the spotlight on street food vendors. I’ve only seen a couple episodes of the show before but as it turns out they even featured a couple places in Calgary! I had to take advantage of all the recipes they have posted on their website, there’s a signature recipe from every food vendor they’ve featured and even a couple vegetarian ones to boot. After recently having a successful shopping experience in China town where I finally managed to score a couple cans of jackfruit in brine (hurrah!), I knew that some vegan pulled pork something or other was gonna happen. I really liked the idea of the Thai Pulled Pork Tacos recipe, I mean sure I could have just slathered the jackfruit in BBQ sauce and stuffed it in a bun but there’s already plenty o recipes for that, this is Food Network people, we need some creativity up in this joint!
After I went through the step-by step of prepping the jackfruit I pretty much threw a bunch of (what I consider) Thai spices and liquids in a pan and simmered it until the jackfruit soaked up every last bit. Then I spread it out in a pan and baked it to dry it out slightly and give it more of a chewy texture. I picked up some little corn tortillas, and I know this is going to make me sound completely dense, but I had no idea you were supposed to fry those things! I just assumed that they were supposed to taste kind of gross and fall apart when you touched them…the things you learn by reading the package.
Once you get your corn tortillas all nice and toasty, you top them with the “pulled pork”, then some mirin spiked slaw, pico de gallo and finish the little guys with a sprinkling of cilantro. Yes, they’re a little time consuming with all that waiting around you have to do with the simmering and the baking but I think it’s safe to say that after the first 3 on my plate quickly disappeared, they are well worth it. We made the pico de gallo kind of spicy, otherwise I think a little drizzle of Sriracha would have been a nice touch, but then what isn’t that stuff good on? Oooo, or even better, Sriracha infused sour cream, now were talking.
Tip: Plan ahead by making the pico de gallo at least an hour prior to making the tacos to help meld the flavours.
THAI JACKFRUIT TACOS
- 2 cans jackfruit in brine, thoroughly drained and rinsed
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 2 tablespoons Thai red chili paste
- 3 Kaffir lime leaves
- 9 inches lemon grass, cut into large pieces
- 1 1/4 cups coconut milk
- 1/2 head cabbage, shredded
- 1/3 cup vegan mayo
- 1 1/2 teaspoons mirin
- 1 teaspoon agave syrup
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced
- 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced (use less if you don’t like heat)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 sprigs cilantro, finely diced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2-3 tablespoons lime juice
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 6-8 6-inch corn tortillas
- Cilantro, for garnish
PICO DE GALLO
- Open both cans of jackfruit and rinse it really well, you want to get as much of the brine off as possible.
- Then take each chunk and cut off the center piece, so that only the stringier parts remain.
- In a small bowl, mix together the red pepper flakes, salt, cumin, black pepper, turmeric, coriander and cayenne to make a dry rub. Pour the spice mix all over your jackfruit, use your hands to coat each piece, I’d highly recommend wearing gloves for this part as the turmeric will stain your hands and nails. In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat the oil and add the onion, cook until the onion begins to caramelize. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a few minutes more then add the jackfruit. Cook for a few minutes until the spices become fragrant, about 5 minutes.
- While the spices are toasting, mix together your wet ingredients, the coconut milk, red Thai curry paste and water. Pour the mixture over the jackfruit and add the lemon grass and Kaffir lime leaves. Let the mixture simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring it from time to time. Once the mixture is almost finished simmering, use a fork to break the pieces up so that they are more stringy.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. When almost all the liquid is absorbed, line a baking sheet with parchment or foil and spread the mixture out evenly. Bake for 10 minutes, mix the jackfruit around and then bake for another 10 minutes.
- To make the pico de gallo: Combine all the ingredients, cover and refrigerate for an hour.
- To make the slaw: Mix all ingredients together just prior to serving so that the slaw stays crisp.
- To plate, over medium low heat, lightly coat a frying pan with oil . Toast the corn tortilla on both sides, top with a couple tablespoons of jackfuit, slaw, pico de gallo and garnish with cilantro.
For those of you who are Calgary and are trying to hunt down some Keffir lime leaves, I got mine at Spiceland in Fairmount. They’ve got a great assortment of all kinds of hard to find spices and herbs.