With one confident stroke of my knife, I cut the thirteen-pound jackfruit in half.  I cut the huge, heavy fruit — langka [lang-kah], as we call it back home — the way my mom cuts it.  I quartered it and sliced each piece into smaller wedges with a knife coated with vegetable oil to keep the stubborn sap from sticking to the blade.  I cut off the spongy pith from each wedge, dipped my fingers in oil, and picked out the fruit’s plump, yellow bulbs that taste like a cross between bananas and pineapples.  I meticulously peeled off the fibrous strings that wrapped around each pod and separated the marbled seeds from the fruit.

Then I started two pots of boiling water.  One pot was for the seeds and the other was for the fruit.  The seeds make excellent snacks when boiled or roasted in the oven or in a skillet on the stove.  They taste like chestnuts but not as sweet. The fruit can be eaten fresh or preserved by simmering in a thick syrup made with brown sugar until it becomes soft and intensely sweet and its color turns into a deeper hue of golden yellow.

I thought about how I would enjoy my langka loot. I thought about stewing it with saba bananas and sweet potatoes in coconut cream to make ginataang halo-halo. I thought about wrapping it with saba bananas in delicate lumpia wrappers, dusting them with brown sugar, and deep-frying them to make crispy turon.  And I thought about using the day-old pan de sal sitting on my kitchen counter to make bread pudding dotted with strips of preserved langka.  I relished all the possibilities.

I took a deep whiff of the jackfruit simmering in the pot.  Memories of home instantly flooded my mind. Memories of my sisters crowding around our kitchen table with my mom, trading gossips and exchanging stories while picking out the sweet, golden pods.  Memories of spiny, thick rinds and a colander filled to the brim with ripe fruit. Memories as sweet as jackfruits.

 

Jackfruit

 

Preserved Jackfruit Recipe

ripe jackfruit
cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
water

Fresh jackfruits are available in most Asian and Latin supermarkets and are usually sold already cut and wrapped in plastic. Cut off the white spongy top, which is the fruit’s core. This will make it easier to remove the bulbs of fruit. Remove the seeds from the bulbs and cut them lengthwise into 1/2-inch strips.

Jackfruits can be eaten fresh or preserved in sugar syrup.  In a saucepan, combine the jackfruit, brown sugar, and water enough to cover the fruit.  Use half a cup of sugar for every pound of jackfruit.

Bring to a boil and simmer until the jackfruit is cooked, around 15 minutes. Transfer the sweetened jackfruit and syrup into a jar and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

Jackfruit

Jackfruit

 

Jackfruit Pan de sal Bread Pudding Recipe
Recipe adapted from Gerry Gelle’s Filipino Cuisine, makes 8 servings

4 cups milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup preserved jackfruit, homemade or store bought, sliced into thin strips
6 to 8 pieces day-old pan de sal or white bread, cubed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 1-1/2 quart casserole or 8-by-8 baking dish with butter.

Whisk the milk, eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla, and butter in a large bowl.  Add jackfruit and bread, and mix well.  Let the bread soak for thirty minutes.

Pour the mixture into the dish and set it in a bigger baking or roasting pan.  Add warm water to an inch from the top of the dish. Bake for 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve hot or warm, topped with whipped cream or à la mode.

 

Jackfruit Bread Pudding

 

Learn the alphabet of Filipino food through our glossary. So much is lost in translation, I know, but I hope this glossary will help those unfamiliar with Filipino food become more informed.

A is for Achuete
B is for Barako Coffee
C is for Camarón
D is for Dinuguan
E is for Ensaimada
F is for Fish Balls
G is for Gata
H is for Himagas
I is for Itlog na Maalat
J is for Jackfruit

  • Anonymous

    Nice article.  Hopefully, you can show where this tasty and smelly fruit can be picked from or is it dropped from. :-)  Good blog piece.

  • http://www.AvenueDesChefs.com Juan Carlos

    Hmm, looks delicious. It almost looks like guanabana/chirimoya … but then I haven’t seen guanabana in a million years. Not likely to find it in Paris methinks. Considering a Mango costs 2 euros.

  • http://www.queensnotebook.com Elizabeth @Mango_Queen

    Love this Langka post! The Langka is my son’s favorite, especially in Halo-Halo. He can even eat straight from the jar, with the syrup. I love this bread pudding recipe. I’ll make it for my sons when they come home. Thanks for sharing, Jun!

  • SamanthaFoodGeek

    One of the few memories I have of the Philippines is my Lolo Matias  making jars of Sweetened Langka and letting the jars cool on the window sill. Biting into one still makes me wistful and happy all at once. Thanks for the how-to on peeling Langka and the trip down memory lane!

  • http://twitter.com/thedailypalette The Daily Palette

    Oh, Jun!  You transform inanimate objects into art!  How gorgeous and how yummy!

  • Tracey@Tangled Noodle

    Oooo, this langka bread pudding almost looks like peach cobbler, but I know from experience that fresh jackfruit has an even more amazing flavor – like pineapple, banana, peach & mango all in one! For those fortunate enough to try it fresh, it should not be missed, especially the heavenly scent from an opened whole fruit. I am going to make this for our Sunday brunch! 8-D

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Thank you! Sadly, the only place you can pick them up is in Asian (and Latin) stores wrapped in saran wrap. I was actually fortunate enough to get them from a Latin grocery store here in Oakland.  They’re hard to come by.  I don’t think the tree would thrive here in the US.  

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Yes, it is! The taste of jackfruit — or langka as Filipinos call it — is a cross between bananas and pineapples.  Maybe a little bit of guanaba.  It’s so difficult to describe but, trust me, it’s delicious!  Mango for two euros? Oh my.

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    The scent of minatamis na langka — sweetened jackfruit — is one of those things I miss most.  The ones made from fresh fruit, mind you, not the bottled ones you can buy from the grocery store.  Just like the ones your grandfather made, I’m sure.

  • Beth Remigio

    Thanks for the article,and pics  and recipe Jun. Reminds me of the langka tree we use to have in our garden in Lucena. It had so much fruit we used to give away some. Now, I barely see one. I think langka would grow well in Hawaii or Florida. by the way, have you ever seen a jackfruit w/o spines? My kumare in Lucena has it. She said she grew it from a seed she brought home from Bangkok.  

  • Anneliesz

    Jun- this bread pudding looks incredible. I love the flavor of jack fruit.

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Thank you, Beth! The Hilo Farmers’ Market’s website, http://www.hilofarmersmarket.com/ says they sell jackfruits when in season but I have never seen them in Hawaii during my visits to the islands.  And jackfruit without the spines? I have never seen one!  How often do you fly back to visit home? Do you still have family in Lucena?

  • http://mayumu.blogspot.com Mary Mint

    Wow jackfruit! Any chance you’ll feature it in its unripe goodness like ginataang langka (jackfruit in coconut milk)? Like you I’m a great fan of ripe jackfruit in syrup (My lola also made it a lot) especially when added to shaved ice and evaporated milk but it was only later as an adult that I discovered jackfruit could be amazing too in its savory goodness.

    Also, I take any chance I get to spread the news. Everyone you have got to try it! :)

  • Beth Remigio

    Honestly,I still have to see that spineless langka i have seen the tree , though. I ‘ll ask my kumare about it .As soon as she sends me a pic I will definitely share  with you. I fly home probably every two or three years. Am originally from Manila, still have my Kuya there. It’s my husband who is from Lucena. Love it. Have a lot of relatives and friends there.

  • http://psychosomaticaddictinsane.wordpress.com Iya S. Santos

    yummy! my favorite thing to do with langka is include it in turon. nomnomnom!

  • http://www.anhsfoodblog.com/ anh@anhsfoodblog

    oh my! This is such an excellent post! Jack fruit is so rare here, I can never thinking of making anything with it

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  • http://www.squidoo.com/best-places-to-eat-in-new-york blondebomber

    This is so interesting!  Thank you!  My favorite dessert of all time is a bread pudding from one of the best
    places to eat in New York
    .  I would definitely love to try something like this though.  

  • http://thecanaryfiles.blogspot.com/ Jonathan

     Langka and pan de sal – who would’ve ever thought the two would make such a delicious couple?  This looks amazing, Jun.  Maraming salamat!

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  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Jonathan, thank you! I hope you’ll come back for more stories and recipes.

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