BETTER BACON

How To Make Vegan Bacon, According To A Pro

“The future of bacon is before you,” says Lauren Toyota, the very funny and innovative chef behind new cookbook, Hot for Food: Vegan Comfort Classics. 

Our kind of chef is one that kicks off a vegan cookbook with the words “But first… bacon.”

Even if that chef—Lauren Toyota—is referring to plant-based bacon, it’s a move we appreciate, and indicative of the kind of unapologetically delicious and innovative recipes you’ll find in her cookbook, the aptly named Vegan Comfort Classics: 101 Recipes to Feed Your Face.

And the secret to nailing that vegan bacon, according to Toyota? “A tangy, sweet, and smoky marinade to drown endless options in.” Here, the recipe for that marinade, followed by four foods you can bake or fry up to add to any dish you like, or for a good old-fashioned (vegan) breakfast.

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Hot for Food Vegan Comfort Classics
101 recipes to feed your face

THE BACON MARINADE

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Directions

Combine all of the marinade ingredients together in a bowl or wide dish with a whisk or fork.

ALMOND BACON

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sliced, blanched almonds
  • Bacon Marinade

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Stir the almond slices into the marinade and coat well.

3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out the almonds from marinade with a slotted spoon and spread in an even layer on the baking sheet. Reserve the excess marinade for brushing during bake time.

4. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, tossing every 10 to 15 minutes to prevent burning. Watch closely as your oven temperature and bake times may vary. If the almonds are not darkening, you can brush on extra marinade halfway through baking. When the almonds are crispy, dark brown, and slightly sticky, remove the baking sheet from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. The almonds may stick together, but once they’re cooled and dry you can break them up with a sharp knife and store in an airtight container. The bacon will last 2 months if stored in a cool, dry place, but it never lasts that long in my house.

CASSAVA BACON

Ingredients

  • 1 cassava root
  • Bacon Marinade
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, for frying

Directions

1. Peel the tough brown waxy skin from the cassava and discard. Your cassava root should be firm and white, not gray or mushy. That is a sign of spoilage.

2. Using the peeler or a mandolin, shave off thin strips of cassava about 11⁄4 inches wide to resemble strip bacon.

3. Marinate the strips for 15 minutes.

4. Heat a nonstick pan over medium-low heat with a small amount of oil. When the pan is hot, place 4 or 5 strips into the pan. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on the first side and 2 to 3 minutes after flipped. You may need to lower the heat so the pan doesn’t get too hot and burn the bacon. Once or twice while frying a batch, add a little bit of the excess marinade to help caramelize the bacon. Also add more oil to the pan before frying each batch.

5. Remove the fried strips from the pan and set on a plate. Placing the strips on paper towels isn’t advised, as they will stick.

6. The bacon lasts up to 2 weeks stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the fridge. Warm up leftover strips in the oven or in a pan on the stove before serving with recipes.

MUSHROOM BACON

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Bacon Marinade
  • 4 ounces shiitake mushroom caps (about 6 large caps), sliced thin, or 2 large portobello mushrooms, sliced thin

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Add the vegetable oil to the marinade and combine well.

3. Marinate the mushrooms for 15 minutes.

4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay out the mushroom slices spaced slightly apart from each other. Reserve the excess marinade for brushing during bake time.

vegan bacon

Reprinted with permission from Hot for Food Vegan Comfort Classics, text and photos copyright 2018 by Lauren Toyota. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

A few more vegan recipes that will become a weekly staple:

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