Saturday, December 22, 2012

Smoky Tempeh Bacon

Happy Saturday! Well, the world didn't end yesterday, so what better way to celebrate than to make a big ol' breakfast with some yummy vegan bacon? Now, I haven't tasted actual bacon on over 15 years, but Mike told me that the taste of this was "bacon-y" although the texture isn't fooling anyone. The sweet smoky flavor is far superior to store-bought veggie bacon though (and most of the veggie bacons I've seen aren't vegan anyway) so make some of this with some vegan pancakes and roasted potatoes for a big hot breakfast full of yum. What a great way to begin the day (and the next Mayan calendar cycle for that matter!)
The longer you can possibly marinate the tempeh, the better, so plan ahead. I'd recommend marinating it overnight, but you really need to let it sit in the marinade for at least an hour. The longer the tempeh soaks, the more delicious the flavor will be. This is great served as-is with breakfast, layered onto some sandwich bread with lettuce and tomato, or used in a recipe - I actually made my last batch of this to add to a cornbread stuffing recipe (that's getting posted next!) so get creative, and use this wherever you'd like some smoky, bacon-y flavor.

Tempeh Bacon
Sizzlin' in the pan....yum!

 8 ounces tempeh
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
a few grinds black pepper
4 Tablespoons peanut or canola oil for frying

Slice the block of tempeh long-way into strips about 1/4" thick.  You will get approximately 10 strips.  Combine the remaining ingredients except the oil in a large, shallow dish.  Place the tempeh in the dish with the marinade, and spoon some of the marinade over the top of the tempeh.  Marinate overnight if possible, or for the very least an hour, turning at least once.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat.  Add half the tempeh, being sure not to crowd the pan too much.  Cook for about 2 minutes or until browned on one side.  Flip, and add 1/2 of the marinade on top of the tempeh.  Continue to cook for another 2 minutes or until the other side is browned and most of the liquid is absorbed.  Drain on paper towels and repeat with the remainder of the oil, tempeh, and marinade.

Optional: for crispier tempeh, place the cooked tempeh on a lightly greased baking sheet and broil 3-5 minutes until crisp, checking often to avoid burning.


Tips and Tricks:

1. The tempeh strips are rather delicate until they crisp up, especially if they've been soaking in the marinade for a long time, so be careful flipping them and moving them around in the pan.  If they break a little though, don't sweat it.  They will still be delicious even in smaller pieces.

2. The broiling step isn't necessary, but if you want a crisper texture, go for it.  The broiling still won't get these as crisp as "real" bacon, or even the store-bought veggie stuff, but it will give a chewier texture that might be better for sandwiches and recipes.

That's all for now; we are going to see Santa today, I'm on a last-minute shopping mission for a tea ball as part of a gift (I can't seem to find one anywhere), and the kids are going to help me with some cut-out sugar cookies at some point this weekend as well.  Holiday recipes for cornbread stuffing and easy chocolate dipped sugar cookies coming soon!


The Fur Ninja <3

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