Coconut bacon is all the rage and it's with good cause. The first time I had it was on vacation years ago in Burlington, Vermont. A neat little vegan eatery (wish I could remember the name of the place..New World?) had just opened and they served it on sandwiches. Being a coconut hater, I didn't get it on my sandwich ton our first visit, but I tried Jim's sandwich and was blown away. Crispy, smoky perfection! As soon as I got home, I went to work recreating it and my version is in American Vegan Kitchen. But now I've got a new bacon obsession. Again, this one is inspired by a vacation meal. Chef Jason Sellers, the mastermind at Plant in Asheville, North Carolina, served us grits topped with shiitake bacon. Thanks to the little funk that is inherent in the shiitakes, the flavor is boosted in these. Mushrooms, being the sponges they are, end up saturated with layers of taste. As soon as we got home from that trip, I started concocting. Many thanks to Chef Sellers for his incredible food, and for the inspiration behind this recipe.
- 3.5-ounce (100 g) package shiitake mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) tamari
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4).
- Remove the stems from the mushrooms and discard. Slice the caps into 1/8 inch (3 mm) strips.
- Put the mushrooms in a medium bowl and add the olive oil, tamari, liquid smoke, salt, and pepper.
- Toss to coat completely then spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned. The "bacon" will crisp as it cools.
- Use the "bacon" the same day it is made for the best texture.
- It can be recrisped at 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4) for 5 minutes, if necessary.
Try this on salads, sandwiches, potato skins, as a soup topper, you name it. It's quick, easy, versatile and can be enjoyed in countless ways.