What’s your flavour? The culinary complexities of breadfruit
The mouth-watering joys of breadfruit turned sorrowful in recent weeks when American singer and actress Christina Millian posted on social media about the popular Jamaican staple. In the video, she can be seen trying ‘breshe’, as it is locally called, for the first time. Many viewers were looking forward to seeing Millian take on the culinary challenge, possibly going outdoors and preparing it on a wood fire. But when she cut the raw breadfruit and began eating it like you would a typical fruit, fans were hurt, disappointed, and even disgusted by the display.
Advising that it tasted tropical, she invited others to bite into the raw cut, spreading the inaccurate way of consumption. She was consequently roasted by fans and non fans for her failed efforts and was immediately corrected on proper preparation methods. That sparked a spirited discussion about the appropriate cooking techniques to apply once breadfruit comes into play.
So here are a few questions that can be quickly answered: Is breadfruit a fruit? Not really. It grows on a tree and is closely related to jackfruit, but is far from sweet in flavour.
Is breadfruit a bread? No it is not, but it is consumed in a similar fashion because it is considered a starch.
Is breadfruit native to Jamaica? It has been said that it arrived on the island from St Vincent and yes, it does exist in other parts of the world, like Hawaii. But because Jamaica boasts a melting pot of flavours, it’s no wonder the breadfruit has found a permanent home on the land of wood and water, and is very dear to the heart of those who were born and raised on its bountiful delights.
Like a mango or an apple, the breadfruit tree is firmly planted in culture and can be found in many rural and urban backyards.
According to Chef Noel Cunningham, breadfruit is a versatile Caribbean side which, when paired with protein, can be consumed for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It has been used to make a punch, puddings, be eaten as is by peeling, slicing and frying until golden and crispy like French fries; by boiling, roasting, or roasted then fried until it’s crispy. ”We now have breadfruit flour, which is gluten-free. It’s known as the tree that feeds,” he added.
Whether you like it roasted or fried, there’s no denying that breadfruit is an amazing superfood. Since it is currently in season, Chef Noel invites you to try his culinary twist on the staple by preparing these crispy breadfruit croquettes at home.
CRISPY BREADFRUIT CROQUETTES
1 small breadfruit, boiled until tender
1tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1tsp hot pepper, finely chopped
Salt & black pepper to taste
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups vegetable oil for frying
1 egg, beaten
½ cup flour
½ cup panko or bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1. Peel breadfruit and cut it into medium chunks then put to boil over medium-high heat until tender.
2 Mash the breadfruit with the butter, salt & pepper, Parmesan, flour and parsley, then set aside to cool.
3. Once they are cooled, form into small balls or a cylinder shape, then put to rest in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes to come together.
4. Remove the croquettes from the freezer and dredge them into the flour seasoned
with salt and pepper, then into the whisked eggs, and, finally, in the panko. Continue
this process until they are coated.
5. In a heated frying pan over medium heat, fry croquettes until golden brown and