Jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, reaching 80 pounds in weight and up to 36 inches long and 20 inches in diameter. The exterior of the compound fruit is green or yellow when ripe. The interior consists of large edible bulbs of yellow, banana-flavored flesh that encloses a smooth, oval, light-brown seed.
There are two main varieties. In one, the fruits have small, fibrous, soft, mushy, but very sweet carpels with a texture somewhat akin to a raw oysters. The other variety is crisp and almost crunchy though not quite as sweet. This form is the more important commercially and is more palatable to western tastes.
While strolling around Cho Dong Ba (Dong Ba Market) in Hue this weekend, The Astronomer and I spied a woman selling jackfruit and immediately bought 10,000 dongs worth. Both varieties (mushy and crunchy) were available for purchase; I prefer the crunchy kind. We received two good-sized chunks of jackfruit with the outer peel removed.
I’ve been eating jackfruit all my life, but always the canned, syrupy version with seeds removed and pre-sectioned. Eating the fresh stuff was a tastier, albeit messier, experience. I found the flavor of fresh jackfruit perfectly sweet and the texture stringier than its canned counterpart. The seeds were huge and slippery, but not burdensome like watermelon seeds.
Although we were hoping to bring our fruit back to Saigon, Da Nang airport security made us down ‘em before our flight home. Hopefully we’ll be able to procure some jackfruit in our neck of the woods.