Apparently, you can now buy vegan bacon. Sounds like a paradox. This is not something you would find in my shopping cart. I like to keep it real. Real butter, real sugar, real bacon. That was until I met a very cute and very pink piglet at the local farmer’s market. Giving up bacon was really not that difficult. If a hunter can cook a vegan meal, anything is possible. Hank makes a good point and our Meat + Taters culture is centered too heavily on meat, anyway. While I agree with the concept of being vegan, I really do not like ingesting a ton of chemicals created in a lab to replace natural ingredients. It usually tastes bad, too.
Enter Vegan Bacon. Yes, fake bacon. You know I do not like anything artificial, but this stuff is made from real coconut and real maple syrup. Put good stuff into a dish and get good stuff out of a dish. Considerably better for you than actual bacon, this stuff is teeming with the good type of fats, vitamins, minerals, even antioxidants. Even liquid smoke is natural; it is just the condensation produced when wood chips are smoked. Coconut Bacon might win you endorsements from PETA, gurus worldwide, your family doctor and, most importantly, Mom. As a bonus, this stuff actually tastes so damn stuff-your-face good, it will send you running down the street, smackin’ your lips, slapping yourself happy. Ok, maybe nothing so dramatic, but doing the right thing and eating the right foods feels good, doesn’t it? Even the texture is on target. The coconut releases its natural oils in the hot pan and becomes crispy the same way real bacon does when fried. Sweet, salty, smoky, crunchy and unspeakably tasty, just like real bacon, but not.
Maple-Glazed Vegan Coconut Bacon
Note: The smoked paprika adds a bit more flavor and color, but is really not necessary.
3 cups sliced, unsweetened coconut Line a cookie sheet with paper towels. Set aside.
1 tsp smoked paprika (optional) Place a large nonstick pan onto medium-high heat.
2 Tb soy sauce Toss everything into the pan and stir occasionally.
1 Tb freshly cracked black pepper Continue frying until the coconut becomes golden.
1 Tb liquid smoke Remove from heat and transfer onto paper towels.
1 Tb maple syrup Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.