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Trader Joe’s Crispy Crunchy Jack Fruit Chips

Trader Joe's Crispy Crunchy Jackfruit Chips

More convenient than a smelly, 80 pound mega fruit

One thing that Trader Joe’s cannot be accused of lacking are options is the dried fruit department. I’m endlessly charmed by the lengths and methods TJ’s will go to in order to bring us a fourth type of dehydrated apricot, or a new way to make banana chips.

However, even I was surprised by Trader Joe’s Crispy Crunchy Jackfruit Chips. For one, it’s weird to see such a massive fruit in such a tiny bag. The first time I encountered jackfruit in real life, I was shocked and a little taken aback, that fruit could get so big.  How big is it? Big enough that I was momentarily afraid I had been shrunk to the size of bug.  A fully mature jackfruit can be up to 3 feet long, weigh up to 80 pounds, and grow in bunches on trees – meaning they straddle the line between fruit, and natural hazard.

Your average jackfruit could kill a horse if it happened to drop at the right moment, helped along by the fact that they are covered in spiked, armored plates – as if Nature decided to stop screwing around after this pineapple thing. It’s rare to find a fruit where two, stacked on top of each other, could beat me in a fight.

Despite its relative obscurity here in the West, jackfruit has been a staple in India and South East Asia for thousands of years thanks to its size, resiliance and versatility as an ingredient. Like papayas, jackfruit are used for much more than simply a sweet snack. It is roasted, added to soups, fried into cutlets, mashed into kati and otherwise eaten all over the placed. In fact, jackfruit is so adored that it’s the National Fruit of Bangledesh. It’s not surprising, then, that Trader Joe’s got the idea to dehydrate them into chip. After all, that’s  been a popular snack throughout South East Asia for many years.

In their natural, raw state the jackfruit tastes something like a banana crossed with a very mellow mango. By drying jack fruit out, Trader Joe’s reduces this flavor profile greatly. Regardless of the exotic origin and taste of jackfruit, what we’re encounter here  is basically a nice-sized banana chip. It may be a hint sweeter, and there are subtle tones of mango and pineapple hiding in the background, but these more exotic flavor are not nearly pronounced enough to over power the starchiness of the chip. It’s the size and softness of the jackfruit chips that makes them most different from banana chips – each piece is a mouthful, and they yield rather more pleasantly to the tongue than the brittle banana chip.

One other thing the jackfruit is famous for is its trade mark odor. Fortunately lost during the dehydrating process, the fruit is generally described as having an unpleasantly overripe musk often compared to smelly feet.

Overall, it’s only subtle touches that set these jackfruit chips apart. If you’re a banan chip fan, these will be interestig to pick up by comparison. If you’re looking for a fresh new taste, however, something exotic to tingle the tastebuds, Trader Joe’s Cripsy Crunch Jack Fruit chips aren’t going to blow you away.

That left me a little disappointed, but not defeated, so I went looking for a recipe that could give second life to this otherwise limited snack chip.  I may or may not have found it.  The recipe below is for traditional jackfruit bonda – a type of small, South Indian snack dumpling. Ideally you make these by grinding fresh jackfruit into a paste but, dammit, we just don’t live in an ideal world. Until TJ’s starts stocking their shelves with smelly, 80 pound monster fruits, I guess I’ll just have to make do with their jackfruit chips instead.

The concept behind re-purposing this recipe is to somehow reconstitute the dehydrated jackfuit chips with a bit of water (or juice) in order to create a paste. This paste is then, conceivably, used to cook with. Unfortunately, my food processor  couldn’t manage the task and I was left with an unusable slurry. Next time I’ll try taking a mortar and pestle approach, and pulverize the jackfruit chips before trying to reconstitute them – so stay tuned for that!

In the meanwhile, if anyone has more luck with this recipe, please share with us in the comments!


Impossible(?) Jackfruit Bondas (using dehydrated Jackfruit chips)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of dehydrated jackfruit chips
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup farina or semolina (cream of wheat will do)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 tsp of fun exotic spices (Recommended options: a mix of dried ginger and cardamom, with a pinch of salt and black pepper, but really you can get crazy with this part)
  • oil to fry with

Directions

  • Somehow grind jackfruit chips into a fine paste (maybe with a mortar and pestle?)
  • Combine jackfruit paste, sugar, farina, coconut and spices.
  • Let sit for 15 minutes
  • Roll into small balls (about 1/2 the size of an egg, or so)
  • Heat up a frying pan, fill with oil, and start frying the suckers.
  • Eat them bonda up!

Notes: Real bondas should be made with jaggery and rava – two Indian ingredients that I barely understand and can’t get into here. Instead, I substituted brown sugar (for the jaggery) and cream of wheat (for the rava). Both of these substitutions will probably piss off anybody who makes real bondas, so be careful.


 

The Breakdown

Would I Recommend Them: Not really, these weren’t much better than banana chips.

Would I Buy Them Again: I have to! I’m not resting until I figure out this bonda recipe

Final Synopsis: Like banana chips, but a little softer and a subtly more exotic tasting.

 

 

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4 Comments on “Trader Joe’s Crispy Crunchy Jack Fruit Chips”

  1. Sandy Traveler says:

    You commented about the “trademark” smell of jack fruit. Are you confusing it with durian and its legendary odor? There are signs in Thai hotels forbidding durian on the premises.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The supposedly crispy crunchy jackfruit chips were hard and my jaw hurt from eating good it. Did the buyer taste the product before ordering from it? Would never buy it again. Horrible product.

  3. Lori says:

    I came across these today and had to buy them after trying fresh jackfruit a friend gave me. I love these chips and will be getting more.

  4. Deborah says:

    I have bought these Chips at TJ’s and loved them. They reminded me of a dried banana chip in a way with a hint of mango or papaya in the after taste. They are very unique and I especially loved the crunchy texture. They are not as hard as a dried banana chip and they are much thicker. I do not live near TJ’s anymore yet will be buying more when we get one built here where I moved to in NC. I recommend them. Next I want to try Durian. I hear it is extremely smelly yet really good. I love all types of smelly cheeses and have eaten all kinds of foods all over the world so I’d be game to try Durian! 😉
    An exotic fruit that I really love and that is rare to find…is the Passion Fruit and it is wonderful! Make sure when you buy one to shake it and make sure it doesn’t rattle the seeds inside. If it does, it has dried out and is too old. They should be firm and smooth skinned like a plum. They are very unique to eat and have an amazing taste!


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