So it may see, bizarre that a bacon recipe should appear on my blog, albeit it a fake one. In the past D who knows the kind of flavours I like suggested had I been a meat eater that I may have liked pork scratchings, maybe even bacon bits sprinkled on pasta or lentil soup because of its smoky flavours. He may be right, but I’m not tempted at all. I’m happy with smoky paprika crisps and still miss Mesquite Kettle Chips.
The one thing you always hear from both converted vegetarians and vegans when they give up meat is them missing the texture and taste of bacon, often seduced by the smoky wafts of bacon rashers being fried. This has never ever been the case for me, I have never eaten pig or beef. The only meat I would eat as a child was chicken wings, minced meat and fish. So when I decided to give up meat for certain, it wasn’t really a hardship for me. The only thing I would continue to eat was fish, namely because it was easy for those around to feed me, who’d often think – ah we have a vegetarian coming for dinner, what are we going to feed her? It was just easy at the time and sometimes the polite thing to do.
tempeh, or it was these chewy plastic rashers. On the internet you will find a whole host of vegetarian and vegan variations of mock bacon such as those made from gluten flour; dehydrated eggplant slices; smoked shiitake mushroom bacon; and even coconut bacon.
Around this time last year I was rather excited when I came across an easy home made version made with red beans and buckwheat grains. I knew it was a star recipe when variations of it started appearing on blogosphere. The original recipe stems from No Meat Athlete. Both Matt and Christine Frazier have kindly granted me permission to share the recipe with my readers. What I found really appealing about this recipe was the dose of paprika, plus most of the ingredients are accessible in the United Kingdom: such as adzuki beans, buckwheat grains, nutritional yeast and coconut oil (check out your nearest South Asian grocers). The only specialist ingredient you may struggle with is liquid smoke, but I managed to find some in Scotland here and here. It is a bit on the expensive side as its imported, but its worth having in your kitchen cupboards.
|raw adzuki beans and buckwheat grains|
After carefully slicing them and removing them from the non stick baking paper, I gave D the honour of frying them in some oil. He made an observation and said unlike the real bacon, these do not ooze out fat. I suggested perhaps I should add some vegetarian suet to the blend next time, he advised me against it and said I did not need to tamper with the recipe at all. Having eaten them a number of times, I completely agreed with him. However over the past few months, I have made one change to the recipe. The original recipe uses maple syrup, one time I didn’t have any in my kitchen cupboards so substituted it with agave syrup, it worked well. Another great thing about this recipe is that you can freeze the strips, but I have to say, freezing does alter the texture a little.
I have absolutely no idea if these taste anything like the real meat bacon and had to ask D for his insight. He admitted it did not taste exactly like bacon, but vouched it did an excellent job of mimicking the smell and flavours. We’ve had this meat free 'bacon' a few times now as part of a fried vegetarian breakfast, in and the traditional bacon butty or should I say facon 'bacon' butty. I have to admit, I can’t quite see it as a rasher of bacon, but enjoy these as a slice of spice in the way I have Terry Romeros's seitan chorizo or Celia's Tofu Biltong.
Makes 16 - 24 strips
110g/ ½ cup dried adzuki beans or other small red beans
70g/1/3 cup buckwheat grains (not buckwheat flour)
1 teaspoon onion granules
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
4 teaspoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon Tamari or Soy sauce
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons (sun dried) tomato paste
1 teaspoon coconut oil
2 teaspoons (agave or) maple syrup
Oil for greasing tray plus extra
Rinse the adzuki beans and buckwheat, place in large bowl covered with cold water. Leave to soak overnight.
Strain the soaked beans and buckwheat and rinse well. Place in the bowl of a food processor. Add the onion and granules, liquid smoke, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, Tamari or soy sauce, salt, tomato paste, coconut oil and syrup. Pulse several times to combine, scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl and continue pulsing until uniform but not as pureed as hummus.
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6.
Line a 9×13 baking tray with parchment paper and coat pan with baking spray. Place the adzuki-buckwheat mixture on the tray and spread evenly with a spatula. It will look like its not enough mixture for the tray, but it will spread.
Bake on top shelf for 10 minutes.
Remove the strips with palette knife or spatula.
To cook: Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat. Fry the meat free ‘bacon’ slices for 2-3 minutes, flipping once. You can freeze the meat free ‘bacon’, then fry it straight from the freezer, there is no need to thaw it. Modified very slightly from the No Meat Athletes Original Vegan Soy-Free Bacon
UPDATE: Fellow Blogger Eileen at Eileen's Kitchen made this in December 2011. Please check out her Pig-Free BST Sandwich here.