Monday, January 31, 2011

Veganize This! Jenn Shagrin's Cumin "Crab" Tostadas

I am a jackfruit virgin no more. Jenn from one of my favorite blogs ever, Veganize It...Don't Criticize It! and author of Veganize This!, has initiated me into the wonders of this fruit, and I just have to say that whoever first thought of using it as a meat substitute must be some kind of genius.

I was super excited to receive my copy of Veganize This! and have been flagging all the recipes that I want to try, which is pretty much all of them. Unfortunately for me, Jenn's book arrived just at the time that I embarked on a temporary gluten-free phase, and since the majority of her recipes are based around seitan, I'm going to have to wait a while to make a lot of them. Fortunately though, she also has some amazing looking recipes using jackfruit as a seafood substitute.

I'd been wanting to try a jackfruit recipe for quite a while now. I've seen a lot of recipes online, for everything from Chow Vegan's BBQ Pulled "Pork" sandwiches and Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos to the recipe on Jenn's own site for Jackfruit Crab Cakes, which is also included in her book. I made some vegan crab cakes recently, so I decided instead to make Jenn's recipe for Vegan Black Cumin Crab Tostadas over Cabbage Salad with Lime, Mint, & Wasabi Dressing. Oh yeah. How could you not want to make something with a description like that? So many of her recipes have titles like something you would order in the kind of fancy restaurant where they make you wear a jacket, and there are separate waiters to fill your water, fold your napkin, and hand you sculpted pats of butter with fancy little silver tongs.

I have to confess that I didn't have any black cumin, so I just used regular cumin. That might have fundamentally changed the flavor of this recipe, but it still turned out great, so I'm not too worried about it. You mix cumin and some other spices together, then coat the jackfruit with the spice mix, and pan-fry it until browned and slightly crispy. I should mention that these type of savory recipes make use of the young, green jackfruit that is packed in water or brine. When the jackfruit ripens, it becomes yellow and sweet, and is usually canned in syrup. That is not the kind of jackfruit you want to use for this type of recipe.

It amazed me how much the jackfruit actually did resemble jumbo lump crabmeat, or pulled pork shreds for that matter. You have to pull apart the chunks of fruit into these smaller pieces, and the texture is very similar to canned or jarred artichoke hearts.

Jackfruit lump "crab" meat
I wouldn't say that this really tasted like crabmeat, but it was delicious nonetheless. There were so many different layers of flavors and textures in this dish, from the crunchy tostada to the fresh, crisp cabbage salad that was singing with the lime/mint/cilantro/wasabi dressing, to the tender, meaty, cuminy (not a real word) jackfruit that was mixed with salsa before serving. Jenn recommends using a pico de gallo-type salsa, but again, that's not what I had on hand, so I used a spicy mango peach salsa which added a bit of sweetness to this dish and complemented the other flavors quite nicely. I just can't wait to try more recipes from the Veganize This! cookbook now, if they are all as creative and delicious as this one then we're in for many more vegan good things.


  1. Wow, yummy yumminess, must get to my can of young jackfruit asap!!!!!!

  2. This looks like an awesome recipe. Last week, I made Jackfruit Gumbo. I didn't think to pull the chunks apart and will now have to try that.

    Have you ever had a Brazilian moqueca? It is a spicy crab and coconut stew. I will have to try it with this trick, too!

  3. I agree - I oftentimes think the vegan alternative doesn't taste like what it's substituting. But I've learned that I'm ok with that. The new flavors are usually better anyway! Thanks for another great post!

  4. So many delicious recipes here! I stumbled across your blog today through twitter and I'm looking forward to reading. I'm slowly making the transition from vegetarian to vegan, so I am looking around for all the help I can get!

  5. Your tostadas are beautiful! (I don't just say that to all the girls.) I can't wait to see the new recipes you dream up using jackfruit :)

  6. jackfruiit crab meat. black cumin. I think I stared at that picture for 2 minutes. Beautiful. :)

  7. This looks absolutely amazing. I LOVE Jenn's recipes & totally need this book. I have been on a cookbook buying bender, which I'm trying to put a stop to... Buuuut, maybe I'll have to pick up this book before I do so. :-D

    Jackfruit is so awesome! I actually have never cooked with it, but a friend made jackfruit carnitas for me once & they were out of this world!