Last fall, I carted an entire jackfruit up to Oregon, courtesy of youngest auntie who knows how much my mom loves them. As we were picking out the fruit from between the tendrils, I remarked that it seemed like such a waste since there was so much of it.
Vietnamese people don't waste anything, said my momma, who then told me that the tendrils could be cooked in braised dishes and the seeds can be boiled or toasted and eaten like nuts.
So the next time youngest auntie came over with a small portion of jackfruit for me, I decided to put it to the test. The tendrils, while not as sweet as the fruit, were still slightly sweet enough. A perfect pairing for braised pork. If you don't have fresh jackfruit on hand, I imagine green jackfruit would work just as well.
I have no idea if this was how my mom meant for it to be cooked. I made this up myself! :)
Thit Heo Kho Mit (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Jackfruit)
Adapted from my recipe for Thit Heo Kho Trung (Vietnamese Braised Pork with Eggs)
For a 2-quart pot, you'll need:
Nuoc Mau (Vietnamese Caramel Sauce)
1 lb pork butt or shoulder, sliced into two-inch chunks. Traditionally, a nice fatty portion with skin attached is used. Screw cholesterol and follow tradition if you wish.
1 cup jackfruit tendrils or green jackfruit
1 medium onion, sliced or diced, and/or a few cloves of garlic if you wish
1 cup fresh coconut juice, or substitute with Coco Rico
About 1 tblsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce), or more according to taste
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Optional: If you don't want to make the caramel sauce, you can substitute by adding 1 tblsp of Indonesian Kecap Manis
If you don't know how to eat a jackfruit, I suggest reading my primer first. Jackfruit can be a little intimidating to dig into if you've never encountered one before.
The portion my auntie gave me was just right. After removing the fruit and seeds, you'll be left with...
...the shag carpet-like tendrils. Slice those off.
Below, you'll see I have the various parts: the jackfruit meat itself for eating, the seeds for boiling or roasting, and the fibrous tendrils, which will be cooked with pork.
The tendrils are a little fibrous with a bit of a resin that will stick to your hands. Just scrub your hands afterward with a bit of oil, and then soap and water, to rinse it off. After washing them, set the tendrils aside until later.
Cut pork into 2-inch wide chunks. Slice or dice onions. Set aside.
Make the caramel sauce, then add the pork and stir to color the pork. Add the onion and about 1 cup of coconut juice, or half a can of Coco Rico, and enough water to cover the meat with about an inch of water over. Stir again to mix it up. If you like sweeter meat, you can use additional coconut juice in lieu of the water. Taste and adjust sugar or fish sauce if necessary.
Turn heat down to medium low and allow to simmer for at least half an hour, ideally an hour. Pork gets more tender the longer it cooks so this is really a personal preference. My mom likes her pork very firm, I like it fall-off-the-bone tender. The water will cook down and meld everything together -- the pork and onions will soften, the almost burnt sugar takes on a deep molasses flavor, the saltiness of the fish sauce balances it all. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
About 15 minutes before the pork will be the done, add the jackfruit. You don't want to put the jackfruit in too soon or it'll get mushy.
This dish can be pretty fatty if you choose to use pork belly or a skin-on portion, so I'd suggest making this and then refrigerating it for several hours or overnight. The excess fat will congeal for easy removal. Just reheat by letting it simmer for a few minutes.
Serve with rice.
My other jackfruit recipes:
Goi Mit Non Tom Thit Heo (Vietnamese Green Jackfruit Salad with Shrimp and Pork)
Hot Mit Luoc (Vietnamese Boiled Jackfruit Seeds)
Tropical Fruit Cocktail Delight
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