Larb Jackfruit – Laotian and Thai Salad – Recipe

Larb Jackfruit 2
Larb Jackfruit

Jackfruit is en fuego right now as a sort of vegan meat substitute for tacos, barbeque, etc. I'm not sure who first thought of the idea, but I learned about it from Clean Green Simple and the most-definitely-not-vegetarian-but-always-entertaining Chadzilla.

Jackfruit is an enormous fruit that is used throughout southeast Asia. When ripe, it has a relatively mild tropical fruit flavor. When young and green, the fruit has a very slight flavor, but a fascinatingly shreddable texture.

I haven't had the pleasure of working with the fresh fruit yet, though I do see it for sale at some local Asian markets. I've been buying the canned green fruit, packaged in brine, which works quite well. You absolutely do not want to buy the ripe fruit packaged in syrup. That is intended for dessert (and probably isn't very good anyhow).

Anyhow, I wanted to see what else I could add to the conversation beyond the barbeque idea, and the first thing that popped into my mind was larb. Larb is a salad made in Laos and Thailand in which a ground meat (often chicken, larb gai) is combined with a dressing packed with chili heat, puckery lime juice and fresh herbs and served with cabbage or lettuce leaves.

You'll sometimes see a vegetarian larb made with tofu but as much as I love tofu, somehow the texture never seems pleasing to me in this dish. Green jackfruit knocks it out of the park in my opinion.

Larb always includes toasted rice powder. You can buy it premade at a good Asian grocery, but it is also very easy to make at home if you have glutinous (sticky) rice available. I've included directions below. You can also make a batch of sticky rice to serve with the larb, so now you have double reason to pick up a bag.

By the way, readers have been asking me for years to add a better way to print recipes. I finally found one. Look in the box below any recipe on the site now, and you'll see a nice green "Print" button that will pop up a page with just the headnote and recipe, all ready to print, and you'll even have the option of excluding images.

Larb Jackfruit
Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free
Serves 2 

  • 2 tablespoons thin red shallot rings
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 handful mint leaves, thinly sliced (plus a few for garnish)
  • 1 handful cilantro leaves, roughly chopped or torn
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce (gluten-free if required)
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Sugar
  • 1 twenty ounce can (10 ounces drained weight) green jackfruit in water or brine (not syrup)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (Thai if possible) 
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon toasted rice powder (storebought or see below), plus more for garnish
  • Several green cabbage leaves cut into approx 3" squares
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the shallot, scallion, mint, cilantro, garlic, soy sauce, lime juice, and a big pinch of sugar.
  2. Drain the jackfruit and pull it apart into shreds. There will be some hard pieces that you can discard. You'll end up with maybe a cup and a half of shreds. Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil, and when it is shimmering, add the jackfruit and red chili powder and a pinch of salt. Saute for about 1 minute, mainly just to warm through and distribute the chili flavor. 
  3. Transfer the jackfruit to the dressing, add most of the rice powder and toss. Taste and adjust seasoning. You may want more salt, sugar or chili powder. Arrange the cabbage leaves on a serving plate and mound the dressed jackfruit on top. Garnish with the reserved mint leaves and a bit more rice powder and serve immediately.

Toasted Rice Powder

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Place two tablespoons of glutinous rice in the skillet and toast, stirring frequently, until well browned. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind to a powder. Shake through a coarse sieve to remove any overly-large bits.

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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, September 19th, 2011 in Gluten-Free or modifiable, Recipes, Salads, Vegan or Modifiable.

17 Responses to “Larb Jackfruit – Laotian and Thai Salad – Recipe”

  1. September 19, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    The Jackfruit has been called the vegetarians chicken for a long time among the Indian community. This is supposedly because the structure of the fruit is very similar to that of chicken. You can notice the strands (like the muscle fiber in the chicken)on the fruit as you get to the edible part of the fruit

    btw….Which local market did you spot it ?

  2. Dan
    September 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    Oh man! This is my dinner for tonight. Thank you VERY much.

  3. September 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    Very nice, Michael. Asian and Latin were definitely 2 of my intended directions with this. I would also encourage you to work with the whole fruit. Just finding a good base method of cooking it… possibly wrapped in foil in an oven with neutral liquid and rub, to portion and freeze for re-use later. Sous-vide definitely, but you would have to break it down into several portions. Someone commented on my post that the seeds are edible also (another plus to getting it fresh). I was actually wondering that as I was digging into it. This organism yields one hell of a giant fruit. Not sure how many people it would take to eat just one. It’s gotta be equivalent to at least 4 whole chickens. Better either store it and diversify the preparations as to not get bored or have a jackfruit party.
    Always good stuff here. Honored for the mention.

  4. Michael Natkin
    September 19, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    Thanks, Chad! Yeah, I'm screwing up the stones to take on a whole fresh one of those monsters. Someone just mentioned on my facebook page that frozen is sometimes available as well, so that could be yet a third option, but clearly I need to experience fresh to set a benchmark for whether the preserved products are acceptable or not. I have to say that final picture of yours just looks really flavorful.

  5. September 20, 2011 at 6:12 am #

    Hey..this is a gr8 idea..jackfruit is made in several ways in Indian cuisine..and certainly also in a ‘curry’ or masala type fashion and it sorta tastes like mutton or chicken…

    You should give ripe jackfruits a try.. They are bright yellow in color and very sweet naturally. Of course, I have only ever eaten the fresh kind. They have a distinct heady aroma, which is characteristic of the jackfruit, just as the passion fruit has a taste unique to the passion fruit e.g

    Jackfruits are grown a lot in the coastal areas in India, so its very possible that some enthusiastic desi folks in the northwest might have planted a tree in their backyard..

    Indian grocery stores are also a good option for fresh jackfruit!

    thanks..

  6. Akanksha
    September 20, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    Very nice… I absolutely adore jackfruit and had been looking out for interesting recipes. You can find frozen jackfruit in Indian grocery stores in frozen veggies section. Frozen jackfruit knocks the pants off the canned variety. It seems to contain only the very unripe, tender bits (the way its supposed to be) as opposed to the big,fat,ugly, not-so-tender fruit in cans.

  7. Michael Natkin
    September 20, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    Thanks, Akanksha - I'm convinced, gotta go seek out the frozen version soon, as well as fresh.

  8. Akanksha
    September 20, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    Michael, try Apna Bazaar at 148th St, Bellevue.

  9. Michael Natkin
    September 20, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    Hey Sandhya – I found it at ABC Mart (2500 Beacon Ave. S. in Seattle). But I'm sure it is at Uwajimaya too, and I wouln't be surprised if they have frozen as well.

  10. September 21, 2011 at 4:37 pm #

    Holy Cow, Michael!
    I lived in Thailand for two years and larb gai was pretty high on my list of reasons not to become vegetarian. I have stopped eating meat recently and am SO excited to give this recipe a try! It looks delicious.
    Oh, and just fyi – when the meat is ground, they call it larb. When sliced (like it looks in your picture), it’s called Nam Tog (waterfall). Thanks for many a great recipe!

  11. Michael Natkin
    September 21, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    Ah! Thanks for the info on the name. I realized that the texture was different than larb, but I didn’t know that there was a correct name for what I made :).

  12. leslie.rutkowski@gmail.com
    September 22, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    I’ve also had larb/laap/larp with sliced cucumbers on the side and Thai basil as a garnish. So delicious!

    Thanks for the recipe.

  13. Meghna
    September 26, 2011 at 12:12 am #

    Thanks for such nice and healthy recipe:) Would love to read more.

  14. June 18, 2012 at 8:07 am #

    What a great idea to make larb with jackfruit! You should try it with crumbled tofu though. I’m a vegetarian living in Thailand, where I enjoy it often. It is like heaven on earth, trust me!

  15. April 30, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

    My wife loves jackfruit for lunch while I don’t but I think this is great if ripe and good for snack.

  16. May 8, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    I might not be Thai or Indian but coming from the Caribbean ( Jamaica), Jackfruit (ripe) is loved there. Ate much of it when I was a kid and I absolutely don’t find anything wrong with the canned ripened fruit. Just because it’s in a syrup doesn’t mean it’s only good for dessert. I’ve used it in quite a few savory recipes myself. Pegs great for stuffing, works great with lobster, cod, goat, and also some other cool vegetarian options. Will try the larb recipe though.

  17. April 10, 2014 at 11:08 pm #

    It looks delicious on the picture.
    How to get jackfruit in Europe?
    I guess you can only buy it in cans.

    I wrote an article about jackfruit and i would love it if you could comment or add anything.

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