“But what about bacon?”
The chances are, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you’ve either said these words yourself at some point, or have heard at least one person say it to you.
My answer to this question, if you didn’t already know, is Tempeh Bacon!
Bacon is just one of those things, much like cheese, that people think they will miss the most if they adopt a plant-based diet (and I’m not excluding myself from that group). But as I progressed along my vegan path, and no longer thought about what I was missing out on, but rather on what I was gaining, thoughts of missing things like bacon and cheese just weren’t a part of my life any more.
However. There are certain types of flavours, textures, combinations and even appearances of food that we want to enjoy, and that doesn’t necessarily change just because we now eat plants.
The salty, crisp, savoury flavours of bacon being one of them.
But, I’ll be honest, facon just doesn’t do it for me. I don’t hate it, but I always just feel a bit nonplussed – like it doesn’t really need to be on my plate or in my sandwich. So when I tried tempeh bacon for the first time last year at Paradox Cafe, Portland, I just about held it together long enough to contain my squeals of delight. And naturally, before leaving the city of vegan dreams, I made sure to buy a bottle of organic liquid smoke so that I could recreate the crisp, smoky, salty, rashered goodness at home.
(By way of one of those official “we went through your suitcase because you’re suspicious” cards (or in my case, two – in and out of JFK). This may also have been due to the cartoon-bomb-shaped mini pumpkin that was in the case. I think I’m now on a Homeland Security list.)
But it was so worth it!
While it lasted. Because, like a fool, I only brought back one tiny bottle – which I made last 6 months – and the only liquid smoke you can buy in the UK is full of high fructose corn syrup, which is a big ‘no’ in my book.
So to cut a long story short, I’ve developed a recipe for Tempeh Bacon that doesn’t require the use of liquid smoke, but still tastes delicious!
Here are 5 reasons to make this Tempeh Bacon right now:
- you only need 5 ingredients (four of which you probably already have);
- it only takes 5 minutes to prepare;
- meaning you’ll have crisp, salty, smoky – and healthy! – deliciousness in next to no time;
- this is a great recipe to have up your sleeve to impress plant-based sceptics; and
- you can finally enjoy a TLT! Why would you not be making this?
Speaking of TLTs, how about making one this weekend with your first batch of Tempeh Bacon? It goes devilishly well with my Pumpkin Seed & Sun Dried Tomato Pesto…
I’ll be sharing a couple of new recipes in the upcoming weeks to use this great ingredient, but in the meantime, you can check out my Caesar Salad and Tempeh Bacon Bowl from the recipe archives for some inspiration.
This recipe makes about 16 rashers, which is enough for four people if you’re serving this as/with a meal. I love to use this brand of tempeh, which can be found in Planet Organic and other health food stores.
- 200g tempeh
- 3 tbsp good soy sauce (I like to use shoyu or tamari for this)
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp coconut oil (optional - see note)
- Combine the marinade options (minus the oil) in a tray or container.
- Carefully slice the tempeh as thinly as you can and place in the marinade, ensuring each piece is coated.
- Leave for at least 20 minutes (or even overnight).
- Heat a good non-stick frying pan and melt the oil. Place the tempeh slices in the pan in one layer. If the pan is small, cook in batches.
- Cook for 5 minutes on each side, or until it starts to crisp and brown (slightly blackened is nice too, it adds to the smoky flavour!).
- This Tempeh Bacon keeps its flavour once refrigerated, but not its crispness, however leftovers are delicious in soup!
To ensure this is gluten-free, use gluten-free soy sauce.