Cooking With Breadfruit

The tropical fruit is a daily food staple in cultures where the tree grows, including Hawaii, the Caribbean and Central America

According to The Breadfruit Institute at the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii, breadfruit grows in almost 90 countries. (Jim Wiseman)

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Update: On our Food & Think blog, read about Amanda's epic quest to get her hands on a fresh breadfruit in the Washington, DC area.


Breadfruit Nachos

1 Breadfruit, mature and firm

2 Tbsp butter

½ to 1 cup grated cheese, such as cheddar or mozzarella Salt

Optional toppings: Salsa, refried beans, guacamole, sour cream

Wash breadfruit and pat dry. Cut it into quarters, lengthwise, and remove the spongy core. Place quarters skin-side down in a pan filled with about an inch of salted water; add garlic if desired. Boil 12-15 minutes or until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork, but still firm.

Remove breadfruit from pan and let it cool. Peel and cut into crescent-shaped slices, about 1/4th-inch thick. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a skillet (cast-iron works best) on low heat. Add breadfruit slices and fry until they are lightly golden on the bottom. Flip slices, adding more butter if necessary, and melt cheese on top of each one while the underside browns.

Arrange breadfruit slices on a plate like nachos, and sprinkle with sea salt or garlic salt if desired. Top with guacamole, salsa, refried beans, sour cream or whatever else strikes your fancy!

Alternative: Use olive oil instead of butter, and make a Mediterranean version topped with things like pesto, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and/or grated Parmesan cheese.

Breadfruit Cake

¾ cup breadfruit, steamed/boiled and mashed

1 cup honey

½ cup butter

½ cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

¾ tbsp cinnamon

½ cup sour cream

½ cup macadamia nuts, chopped

½ cup raisins

Cream butter and honey. Mix in breadfruit, sugar and vanilla. Sift together dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to creamy mixture; add sour cream until well blended. Add nuts and raisins. Pour into buttered or sprayed 8-inch x 8-inch cake pan. Bake at 350º for 1 hour.

Ulu Shrimp Cakes with Macadamia Nut Pesto


½ breadfruit (ulu), steamed/boiled and mashed

1 small onion, diced

6 jumbo shrimp, chopped, or 1 cup crab meat

5 scallion leaves, chopped

2 cups breadcrumbs

1 egg, whisked

Pinch of salt & white pepper

Cooking oil

About Amanda Fiegl

Amanda Fiegl is a former assistant editor at Smithsonian and is now a senior editor at the Nature Conservancy.

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