Jackfruit salad with dry-aged duck
Autumn is our true fruit season. While we have pulled unripe fruit from trees and shrubs to allow it to ripen in the prior months, the true glut remains on the branch. ’Tis the season for bletting. Bletting is the method of partial fermentation most recognised in fruits such as medlars. But the method applies to many varieties. For me, persimmons were a fruit entirely inedible until I learnt of the jelly-like deliciousness that happens in the weeks after it is officially ripe. The fruit is picked overripe, then left to partially ferment on hay or a similar medium, allowing its sugars to further develop. This is a high-risk technique, however, as once it hits that point it falls off a cliff in quality very soon after.
Jackfruit is a grotesque and gigantic fruiting body that has a pungent odour when taken to this point. It is most known these days as a cryovacked alternative to pulled pork or other meats found in supermarkets, but alternatively the fruit is used in its immature form in much the same way as papaya or mango. Or sometimes the fruit is left to effectively rot, whereby it takes on a complex sweetness that lends itself to savoury applications.
Jackfruit when ripe is an incredible accompaniment to game meats and pork. In this recipe, it’s all about the pungency of the other ingredients to counter the overt sweetness of the developed jackfruit. For this dish I have dry-aged the duck. These ducks have been brined in water containing 6 per cent salt, then blanched and hung for a further six days. I glaze the ducks with maltose or a honey/soy mixture during the ageing, before grilling the breast over a smoky fire. Alternatively, you can purchase a Peking duck from a Chinese barbecue restaurant.
When cooked to medium, this meat can be served at room temperature, but there is nothing to suggest it can’t be served cold as long as the fat has been rendered appropriately.
Serves 2 as an entree
Time: 40 minutes preparation + 10 minutes cooking
- 1 ripe jackfruit
- 1 birdseye chilli
- 1 shallot
- 2 leaves makrut lime
- 1 stick lemongrass
- 1/2 bunch Thai basil
- 2.5cm young ginger
- 1 makrut lime, juiced
- 60ml fish sauce
- 1 duck breast, dry aged using my method, or buy a Peking duck
- Gut the jackfruit by splitting open the body lengthways and removing the fruiting segments. Pull these segments out from the shredded flesh between them and then push the seed out from each segment.
- The stringy section that covers the segments is usable but in a different capacity, such as a common substitute for pulled pork or duck protein. Retain about six segments of the jackfruit and freeze the remainder for later use.
- Shred the rest of the ingredients extremely finely so they are all palatable. This process is potentially the most important, as the potency of the ingredients is necessary to balance all of the other complex flavours.
- Combine with the lime juice and fish sauce and let it macerate for five minutes before serving into a bowl.
- Grill the duck entirely, skin-side down, for about eight minutes. Let rest before slicing finely and placing hard up against the salad so the flavours can be enjoyed together.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on June 4, 2022 as "Jackfruit ripper".
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