Unripe Jackfruit / "Raw" Jackfruit
[Kathal, Enchor (India); Artocarpus heterophyllus]
Recipes that call for cooking Jackfruit like a vegetable always presume you know to use Unripe Jackfruit, which is called "Raw Jackfruit" in most Indian recipes. Many recipes, however, just call for "Jackfruit" with no explanation. Whole unripe fruit is not common in North America, but frozen chunks suitable for curry and the like are fairly available.
Whole fruit, as in the photo to the left, has recently appeared (spring 2013) in some Indian markets down in Artesia. The cut example was actually way too mature for recipes. The seeds, though, simmered for about 15 minutes, were very good, with a lightly nutty flavor and firm, slightly crunchy texture. The photo specimen was 6-3/4 inches long, 5-1/4 inches diameter and weighed 2 pounds 10 ounces.
More on Mulberries.
Unripe Jackfruit is used mainly for curry type dishes in India and Southeast Asia.
Buying: Here in Southern California you will probably be buying your jackfruit from the frozen food cases of an Asian market, in which case it will look like the photo to the left. This is actually the best way for most uses as the product will be quite uniform with almost no waste. Frozen Jackfruit chunks are most easily available in Philippine markets, of which we have plenty here in Los Angeles, because our entire health care system runs on Filipino immigrants. This product is almost always exported from Thailand.
Prep: For frozen, just thaw and cut to the desired size. If you have a whole fresh unripe jackfruit, you'll have to peel it. First oil your hands and a sharp knife so the latex won't stick. Carve off the rind, then slice and cut to the size you want.
Cooking: Most recipes call for simmering cut pieces of Jackfruit in water for 10 minutes or so to prepare them for recipes, but longer cooking recipes don't require that.