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.
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).
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.