Maryland is for Jacks

Jumbo Lump Jackcakes {Vegetarian Crab Cakes}

Jackfruit, it’s the new kale.


As much as I diatribe (not sure that’s a real verb, but hey, I’m on summer vacation) about my general dislike of vegetarian-foods-pretending-to-be-non-vegetarian-foods, I’ll happily relax my ban on such impostors when jackfruit is involved.

I only became aware of this magical fruit relatively recently, but it has quickly become a versatile favorite of mine.  There are many recipes “out there” for vegetarian pulled pork taste-alikes made with jackfruit, but the creativity does not end there!


Jackfruit purchased canned in brine (mine from Trader Joe’s) can be rinsed, drained, and cooked into a wide variety of creations.  The texture, as the can label purports, is indeed very similar to slow-cooked pulled pork, and the flavor is neutral enough to absorb whatever flavors you choose to add, kind of like how the sword of Gryffindor soaked up the basilisk venom and was stronger as a result — I actually think the sword had some jackfruit incorporated during the smelting process, just a guess.


Pulled pork isn’t the only thing that jackfruit can be prepared to resemble!  Depending on the seasonings and spices, you can make everything from Thai “beef” lettuce wraps to corned “beef” and cabbage, to “carnitas” tacos.  Yes, even “crab” cakes.


When chopped right out of the can, the jackfruit looks and feels a lot like lump crab meat, and, even after cooking, the lumpy, flaky appearance stays true!  Since excess moisture is a common downfall of any sort of patty or cake, I recommend thoroughly drying the jackfruit after chopping (to maximize fluid release) and also sauteeing the celery & onion prior to addition.  Minimizing the amount of moisture and chilling the formed patties prior to cooking increase the likelihood that you’ll achieve a cohesive, flippable jackcake!  Honestly, though, if it falls apart on the flip, it still tastes delish 😉
Though you could make these “jackcakes” in a more traditional style (i.e. with mayo, egg, bread crumbs etc.), the recipe below is egg-free (mainly because I eat eggs daily, and I’m watching my cholesterol), relying on a “flax egg” for binding, and it calls for cooked quinoa & multigrain hot cereal instead of breadcrumbs.  The result: a visual & textural deadringer for a crab cake and a pretty darn near tasteringer as well!


Jumbo Lump Jackcakes {Vegetarian Crab Cakes}

20 ounce can green jackfruit in brine, thoroughly rinsed & drained
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 2 tablespoons water = “flax egg”
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium stalk celery, with leaves, minced
1/4 of a medium red onion or 1 whole shallot, minced
1/4 teaspoon smoked sea salt (sub regular salt if you don’t have smoked)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice + 1/2 teaspoon zest
1/2 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon freeze dried chives (sub 1 teaspoon fresh chives if you have them)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch allspice
1/4 cup cooked quinoa
2 tablespoons uncooked 7 grain hot cereal (sub oats if you don’t have hot cereal)
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons olive or sunflower seed oil
Sesame seeds, for panfrying
Chop up rinsed/drained jackfruit into “jumbo-lump”-sized pieces, and place on two paper towels to thoroughly dry as you continue your prep.  In a small bowl, stir together the flaxseed & water, and set aside for at least 10 minutes (FYI, this is your “flax egg,” which helps to bind the cakes).  In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and saute the celery & onion with the smoked salt for 5-7 minutes, until most of the moisture has been released and evaporated.  Remove skillet from heat, and allow sauteed vegetables to cool to room temp.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the sauteed vegetables, garlic, mustard, lemon juice & zest, paprika, chives, black pepper, celery salt, ginger, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, allspice, cooked quinoa, & uncooked hot cereal.  Use a rubber spatula to carefully fold in the jackfruit & yogurt, until combined.  At this point, taste the mixture (don’t be thrown off by the grittiness of the hot cereal here, it will soften in the fridge as it absorbs the moisture), adding more smoked salt, to taste, and/or a dash or two of hot sauce.  Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions, and use your (clean) hands to form each portion into a crab-cake-shaped patty.  Place patties on a wax paper lined plate, cover with plastic wrap, and chill at least 2 hours.
To cook, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium skillet.  Sprinkle a teaspoon of sesame seeds over one side of each patty and spread with your fingers, pressing gently to adhere.  Once pan is hot, swirl to spread the oil around, then place 2 patties, sesame seed side down, into the skillet.  Sprinkle another teaspoon of sesame seeds over the nude sides of the cooking patties, pressing down gently to adhere.  Cook until bottom is crisped and golden, ~3-4 minutes. Flip patties, and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.  Repeat with remaining two patties.
Serve jackcakes on a simple bed of arugula, with sliced, juicy tomatoes, a squeeze of lemon juice, & a drizzling of organic ketchup, a smear of cocktail sauce, or a hearty dollop of plain Greek yogurt.  P.S.  Avocado is a great serving addition!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s