Monday, September 09, 2013

Jeremy's Great Vegan Bacon-Off BLT Party


You know how these days everyone is all "Bacon, bacon, bacon," and everyone on Facebook posts pictures of bacon and can't stop talking about bacon? Well, my dear brother is one of those people. But, to be fair, he has been a true fan of bacon since long before it was the cool thing to do.

When we were little, my busy mom made our family a proper dinner every single night. We all sat down at our places at the table and ate together. Cloth napkins (on our laps!), veggies and starches and proteins, the whole shebang. It's really amazing to reflect on this now, and what an act of love and consistency it was for her to do that. Then, to show our gratitude, my brother and I would torment each other at the table. We sat across from each other and when my parents weren't looking, we would show each other the chewed up food in our mouths or make faces or flick things at each other. Then, we would complain vociferously to our parents about what the other person had done. Ha ha, my poor parents.


On the special occasions when my mom would make us fancy breakfast - like waffles or crepes - sometimes she would also make bacon. My brother, as I've said, loved bacon. In truth, I have always loved the smell of bacon, but I've never really been that into eating it. Still, my rivalry with my brother ran deep, and I wasn't about to let him enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Oh no! So, I would always make sure that I got exactly as much bacon as my brother got, just so he couldn't have it all. Well, I guess the joke's on me, because I'm certainly not hoarding all the bacon any more.


Anyhow, when I think of him, bacon is definitely one of the first foods I think of. So, the other night I decided to have an official Homemade Vegan Bacon-Off. I made 3 different varieties of homemade vegan bacon, and got to work figuring out which was my favorite: Shiitake Mushroom Bacon (recipe below), Tempeh Bacon (recipe from Vegan Brunch), and Coconut Bacon (recipe from Cupcakes & Kale).

We even had two friends over to help with this important field of research. First, we all sampled each one on its own - as a snack - and there was a clear winner: Shiitake Bacon. Damn, that stuff is crazy yummy -- and I don't even usually care for mushrooms!! Somehow through the baconification process, the mushroom slices are totally transformed into tasty little perfections!


Of course we made BLTs, because this seems like the most fundamental way to experience bacon yumminess. I made six otherwise identical sandwiches - two with shiitake, two with tempeh and two with coconut. Then, I cut them each in half, and each of us had 3 halves. It was a lot of food, but for the important needs of scientific research, we made our way through the task. 

What was the verdict? Sadly, coconut bacon came in last. We all agreed that it was just too sweet. I would definitely be willing to try again with a different recipe that called for less sweetener. Tempeh and Shiitake were both tied for first place - and we all agreed that they were both totally delicious. I was one of the folks who slightly preferred the Shiitake bacon sandwich, but honestly, I'd probably stick with tempeh bacon since it has so much more to offer nutritionally (protein, for one!). But for salads or other things, I will definitely make the shiitake mushroom bacon again. 

Having concluded this important research, if I ever feel compelled to serve my brother a vegan BLT, I'll know which is the tastiest version to serve him!

Shiitake Mushroom Bacon
(adapted from The Healthy Hedonist)

1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, cut in 1/2-inch slices
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil (or more olive oil)
1/4 tsp liquid smoke

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Mix together the olive oil, sesame oil and liquid smoke in a medium-sized bowl. Add in the sliced 'shrooms and toss it all until all the mushroomy bits look covered. Then, put them on a big baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Toss, and bake for another 15 minutes

It's that easy.

38 comments:

  1. great post! i am loving your theme. eggplant bacon is also a good one, though it took me a lot of tries to get it right.

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    1. yeah, I only tried eggplant bacon once, and it wasn't a great success. Do you have any tips? I'd definitely be up for trying it again!

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  2. This is the best taste off in the history of taste offs. I love it!

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    1. :) and I saw your coconut bacon post too! great vegans blog alike!

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  3. My brother is a bacon crazie too!! I've made the coconut bacon for him with good feedback. I have to try this shiitake one! I never thought of that. Awesome. I love the dinner table pictures, hahaha.

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    1. try the shiitake bacons - they are so delish!!

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  4. What a wonderful test!! These all look amazing. I'll have to try my hand at mushroom bacon, for sure!

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    1. :) bacon science for the good of veganity

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  5. Mmm they all look so good! Liquid smoke really is magic, huh? I look forward to trying this recipe.

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    1. yes! liquid smoke is a glorious product!

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  6. I really never got that bacon obsession. Probably because we don't have that tradition of serving it for breakfast over here. I can see myself obsessing over that shiitake bacon though!

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    1. yes, the bacon thing is sort of manic over here. Just today someone on my Facebook posted a picture of Bacon Soda. Um, no.

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  7. Love this post! I was thinking of writing a similar post for MoFo but became sidetracked with other things. Interesting to hear the coconut bacon results as I'm not the biggest fan either but everyone seems obsessed with it these days.

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  8. Love how seriously you took this! I love tempeh bacon, haven't seen shitake bacon before and am still to try coconut bacon. I haven't done eggplant bacon either..so many options!
    I have 2 older brothers so your table antics are very familiar!

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    1. ha ha, yes, the dinner table was definitely full of antics!

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  9. I love the idea of a vegan bacon-off! You're such a winner Amey!

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    1. :) as are you, jojo!!!

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  10. I never liked bacon even as a child before I went vegetarian, let alone vegan, but I love shiitake mushrooms so I might have to give this a try!

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    1. they are mostly smoky, so I think you might like them even if you aren't a true bacon fan!

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  11. Wow, such thorough research! :) I love shiitake bacon, but to be fair, I've never tried the coconut or tempeh versions.

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    1. yes! long live the scientific method.

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  12. What a timely post for me to read! I planned BLTs for dinner for Thursday of this week, mostly so I can use up of some of the very-ripe tomatoes in our backyard. The shitake "bacon" looks and sounds really good. Also, I love, love, love your illustrations.

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    1. ripe tomatoes was part of why I thought of BLTs too! We have so many right now! (not that I am complaining, mind you)

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  13. I say yay for vegan bacon flavored everything! I am glad that you and your friends were willing to put in the work to do this very important research.

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    1. thank you. we were willing to sacrifice for the good of all. :)

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  14. I love the very serious lab coats! That's how I can tell you are very serious scientists.

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    1. yes, it is indeed a very serious matter

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  15. ahh this is such an awesome post!

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  16. I just tried this, making 2 experimental groups of the shitake mushroom bacon...the one you posted was okay....the other group had a bit of bragg's liquid aminos and a bit of maple syrup..........both were good, but the 2nd group tasted more like real bacon....the shitakes really "made" the bacon.....I have tried this using tempeh and tofu, and while the flavor was good, the texture was not...the shitakes give the best bacon texture

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    1. oooh, great tips! Thanks KAdams, I'll try your version of shiitake bacon next time.

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  17. Tempeh bacon is definitely my bacon of choice, though I haven't had shiitake bacon before!

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  18. What a fun idea! I haven't tried shiitake bacon, but I'll definitely give it a go with this recipe. I, too, was never a huge bacon fan. I always found it too greasy/fatty and that was weird because I totally loved salami which is super fatty. I really love tempeh bacon, but I love tempeh anything. I've had eggplant bacon and it can be pretty good when cooked right. I have to say though, coconut bacon is my absolute favorite!! I always planned to make it myself, but then I ended up being lazy and buying a pack of the Phoney Baloney stuff and it's excellent. I highly recommend it if you can't find a homemade recipe that you like. It's very salty, but it has this incredible crispyness and tenderness at the same time that reminds me real bacon, plus the flavor is great. I have fed vegan Elvis toasts (pb, bananas & coconut bacon) and vegan bacon avocado toast to several male omni friends and they LOVE it!

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    1. I've seen that stuff online! You've inspired me to get some next time I order from vegan essentials. I'd love to try it. :)

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  19. Thanks you for doing this very important study. I can't wait to try your shiitake bacon. Printing the recipes now!

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    1. lemme know what you think!!

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