Ulu, also known as breadfruit, is a versatile fruit beloved in many areas of the world, including Hawaii. I was excited recently to be able to harvest some for making these burgers, not just because it is a beloved local staple, but because it is also the perfect ingredient for my Mostly Vegan Mondays recipe. For all of you vegans out there, this is an easy eggless ‘burger’ patty you can make with minimal breakage and crumbling. Ulu is great to work with when shaping burger patties because it’s dense like a potato, and holds together well due to the starchy texture.
There are endless ways to prepare ulu/breadfruit, and if you can create a dish using white Russet, Yukon gold, or sweet potatoes, then you can often sub ulu in its place. Probably the biggest challenges are finding fresh, unripe ulu. If you do not live in a zone the grows fresh ulu, you can sometimes find them at international or Asian grocery stores. In case you can’t find any, you can always sub your favorite starchy potato for the breadfruit in this recipe.
I have heard that it may be possible to freeze or refrigerate ulu to use later, but I have not tried either method, and have only consumed it fresh from the tree. The fruit needs to be picked semi-hard and green, with just a tiny bit of sap (white spots) emerging from the skin to make these burgers. *See above photos. When picking it fresh like this, it will get sweeter and softer if not prepared within a few days….and that is a whole different set of delicious recipes! This recipe is definitely more on the savory side, and is delicious when topped with grilled onions and pickles. Enjoy!
Ulu (Breadfruit) Burgers
- 1 firm ulu, about the size of a football
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup shredded carrot
- 1/4 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
- 3 chopped Hawaiian chili peppers (optional)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon each, salt and pepper
- **optional egg for binding mixture together
- refined coconut oil or olive oil for frying
- Wearing gloves, peel ulu, cut into quarters, and remove stem.
- Roughly chop ulu into chunks, adding to a medium size pot. Cover chunks completely with water, bring to a boil, and cook until soft. (You can also bake, steam, or use an instant pot if you prefer, to achieve desired tenderness)
- Drain and mash ulu like mashed potatoes, but leaving some small chunks for substance. Add remaining ingredients and use hands to incorporate everything together.
- Divide mash mixture into six portions and shape into patties. Place patties on parchment paper lined tray, oiled sheet pan, or other non-stick surface. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Heat oil in skillet on medium-high heat and brown patties on both sides until crispy. About 3-5 minutes on each side. Serve on burger buns while hot.