By Marcee Murray King
Really, bacon is all about the seasonings.
Years ago when I ate meat I actually bought the cut without the seasoning and tried it. It really wasn’t very good. I don’t feel like I am missing out at all with this cruelty-free and earth-friendly version.
I have read and tried a bunch of recipes and this is the one I use all the time. It uses liquid smoke. Have no fears…liquid smoke isn’t some artificial ingredient. It is basically just soot scraped off of pipes with water added. “Smoking” done to bacon bought in stores isn’t really smoked and has a lot of chemicals added, so this so much healthier.
1 package of tempeh, any type
1/4 c. soy sauce or tamari (for gluten free)
3 T maple syrup, agave nectar or brown sugar (I usually use maple syrup)
2 tsp. liquid smoke—but I am lazy and just pour two capfuls into the mix. If you are out of liquid smoke, substitute smoked paprika but taste after 1 tsp. and keep tasting as you add more. You want to find the right mix of smokiness without it becoming too hot. I always use hickory. I don’t like the mesquite one.
Oil for frying.
This basic recipe above I got from The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick Goudreau, except hers calls for 1/4 water as well, which I felt was too watery.
Additions (all mine):
Garlic and/or onion powder—I like a lot of garlic and don’t measure either…I just sprinkle it in. I use less onion than garlic. Try 1/4 – 1 tsp of each, depending on your personal taste.
Paprika—Again, it is a personal taste thing. I add about 1 tsp, but you can start smaller.
Fresh black pepper—I grind it until my hand can’t take the squeezing motion my grinder requires any longer.
Note: Some recipes call for nutritional yeast to be added to the ingredients. I find it doesn’t fry as well and the bacon gets clumpy.
Mix the above ingredients and any additions to the recipe in a pan. I use a 9” x 13” baking dish.
If you have time, steam the tempeh first for about 5-10 minutes or so. You can do a whole block and then slice into 1/4 inch slices afterwards, or you can steam them already sliced. They are a little more fragile to handle if pre-sliced, but you can just dump them all in the sauce and arrange easily. If you steam one big chunk, it is hot to touch to cut up. I do both ways, depending on how much time I have.
Note: You absolutely do not need to steam the tempeh. There can be a slightly bitter taste to tempeh, and steaming removes it. Also, it soaks up the bacon flavor much more quickly.
Put tempeh in the marinade, and let it soak up the liquid. It doesn’t take long if it has been steamed…just a few minutes.
Heat some oil in a skillet on high heat. Turn down to medium and add the bacon and fry. Add more oil if needed after turning over.
Cook until done to your perfect amount.
How To Play With Your Food
I sometimes make a big batch of this to have on hand throughout the week for quick blt’s…especially now that tomato season is here!
I have made this with sliced tofu. Tofu needs to soak in the liquid longer, and can be fried in oil or baked in the oven. It would have a firmer texture if you froze it, thawed it and squeezed the water out; then sliced it up and marinaded it. I am always in a hurry, so never want to deal with thawing some out for this. Baking will take 15-20 minutes in a 375 oven or until done…but it gets firmer as it cools, so watch out. Take out, turn halfway through and marinade. My husband likes the tofu version better than the tempeh…
I have also used this recipe with sliced eggplant. However, marinading it makes it get too mushy—though tasty. I have baked it, and it gets a little crunchy and is the best way for more bacon-like texture. I have fried it and it turned out pretty mushy but tasted fantastic! Now that I am writing this, eggplant fried this way but chopped in tiny pieces would probably be PERFECT in a German Potato Salad recipe….now I have to try this out!
I plan on making a gluten version of this with vital wheat gluten (“wheat meat”) and having the seasonings cooked into it, then slice and fry in oil and freezing batches.
Did you see Tabitha Brown’s video making carrot bacon in an air fryer? Just another way of playing around with these types of seasonings.
Photo: Marcee Murray King
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