I love bacon. Obviously. It's delicious. It's salty and crunchy and melty and happiness in my mouth.
Once, a few years ago, I ordered a "chicken" and "bacon" sandwich at a vegan place. The flavors, once melded in my mouth, definitely tasted like chicken and bacon, which was neat. I shelved that knowledge.
Recently, I've been paying more attention to my vegan friend Sheri, and the things she cooks. It inspired me to seek out a vegan "bacon" recipe.
I found a promising recipe on Lunch Box Bunch. I picked up the only ingredient I didn't already have: tempeh. It was very reasonably priced (about $3 for 8oz), which made me feel better about trying something new.
Sunday morning I was in the mood for something brunchy. I knew it was time to break out the recipe.
(a good amount for too people, but a bit too much for one person)
5 ounces tempeh (2/3 a standard 8 ounce pack)
1-2 Tbsp maple or agave syrup (I used two, and it was too sweet, so I'd go with 1 next time)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
a dash of cayenne
1 tsp liquid smoke (opt'l) (I used 1/4t of powdered smoke stuff, and I couldn't tell. Bacon needs to be smoky, so I'd add more)
1 tsp soy sauce (Braggs is about the same thing)
1/2 tsp thick black pepper
for pan: 2 tsp olive oil
*if you don't have liquid smoke use these BBQ spice combos:
(garlic, pepper, paprika and onion)
1. Very thinly slice the tempeh.
2. As thin as you can slice it without it falling apart.
3. Combine all ingredients in a shallow dish.
4. Soak tempeh in marinade for 1-2 minutes. There won't be enough liquid to coat everything, so shake gently. If you stir it the tempeh will break, and if you shake it too violently the tempeh will break. It's easier to fry up the larger peices. I might recommend adding some sort of liquid to make it easier to marinade, but I don't know what.
5. Turn saute pan on high, add 1-2 tsp olive oil. Lay the tempeh flat on skillet. One layer only.
6. Allow to cook for 1 minute, or until crispy brown, then flip. Allow to cook for another minute on other side-or until both sides are crisp and browned.
7. Lay cooked tempeh on parchment paper to cool. Sprinkle with black pepper and thick sea salt to taste.
Okay, it didn't taste like bacon, you guys. Now, this didn't stop me from polishing off the whole deal plus three eggs (and feeling slightly ill, whoops, but hey, I think that was ALL my protein for the day). It was salty and crunchy, but it was too sweet, and not smoky enough.
It's worth returning to, though, at some point. The texture is right. It just needs some tweaks. Sure, it will never be a perfect bacon replacement, but, let's be honest, nothing will. And I'm okay with that.
Tempeh. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it some sort of fermented soy bean brick. It looks weird, but it tastes nutty. It does not taste gross or rotting, don't worry. And, it has an excellent texture. It's packed with protien (one serving has 1/3 of your daily protein, holy WOW), and is a good source of fiber. I still have a third of a brick to play with. I'll see whant I can come up with.
All my ingredients. That R2D2 is my pepper mill.
I tried to act like a fancy food blogger and take my food out into the sunlight. This is sliced tempeh.
I used a tupperware container as my mixing dish, because it has a flat bottom. Adding in all the spices and liquids.
Mixed all up:
Frying, like a G6.
And then I ate it all.