Growing up in the South of France, I don’t remember ever eating bacon. There were maybe small pieces in salads but that was it. I do however remember eating prosciutto wrapped around a slice of melon as an appetizer! It just wasn’t something we consummed at home or even in restaurants. I would later on discover that it is very much an American thing. So when I decided to no longer consume animal products, ditching bacon wasn’t a big deal for me. Generally, people who transition to a vegetarian or a vegan lifestyle, complain that there are 2 things they often miss and crave. Good cheese and bacon. Thanks to pioneers like Miyoko and her divine line of nut-based cheese, you can now enjoy great-tasting vegan cheese that can be spread, melted, shredded, and sliced. One down!
MOST POPULAR BRANDS OF VEGGIE BACON
When it comes to veggie bacon (also known as vacon, or facon), there are a number of products that label themselves as bacon, like tempeh bacon but let’s be honest, it is more like smoke tempeh than bacon. Over the years, we have tried different brands that were widely available in grocery stores, like Morning star’s veggie bacon but watch out, after reading the ingredient list, it has egg whites! Sweet Earth’s Benevolent Bacon is vegan but seitan-based so if you are avoiding gluten, this may not work for you! It also doesn’t really look like bacon, it resembles more thin slices of smoke dark turkey. Upton’s Naturals has one too but the texture is a bit tough. Lightlife has Smart bacon that looks more like bacon, holds its shape in sandwiches but is a bit too salty, to my taste. We are getting closer but still could be improved. Now that the Incredible and Impossible burgers have been perfected and deployed, it won’t take long before the bacon version is out.
Until then, if you can’t yet buy it, you gotta figure out how to make it. The good news is that the flavor part is fairly straightforward. You just need the right balance between salty, smokey, and a little sweetness usually in the form of soy sauce, maple syrup and, liquid smoke. Getting the texture and the colors, that’s a whole other story.
I have had pretty good success with using rice paper as the base but it has to be eaten immediately or it becomes a little tough. That’s not really a problem because they are pretty addictive! I have watched numerous videos of other food vloggers attempting to use other ingredients like coconut chips, or daikon as a base. I tried daikon but it tasted like smoked daikon! So back to the drawing board! Then I watched a video with Mark Thompson, a.k.a. Sauce Stache on Youtube where he played with different types of starches. Wow, I thought that I had experimented making with vegan meats! He takes deconstructing and reconstructing favorite foods to the next level. Who knew you can use methylcellulose and calcium chloride to make super realistic plant-based creations? My first attempt at recreating his recipe sort of worked. I had the taste down but the texture again was a little thick. Anyway, I just received his first book “Making Vegan Meat” and had to try his bacon from mochi (rice flour). One thing I need to say about Sauce Stache’s cooking is that it isn’t simple or quick because he often uses special ingredients you have to buy online, there are usually a number of steps and techniques to master. It is a whole adventure because perfecting an art is a journey and it requires time and patience!
Back to our facon! So I tried the recipe and it was epic! It is soy and gluten-free! I added a little more salt and liquid smoke and didn’t stir the rice flour every 3 minutes as the recipe suggested! I ended up using a silicone dough bag to flatten the rice cake. It was too hot and sticky to use my hands or parchment paper and I didn’t want to wait for the rice cake to cool off not knowing what would happen to it.
The folding of the white and red layers while keeping the shape of a rectangular cake required a little practice. It yielded a beautiful natural marbling effect. The uncooked bacon slab needs to be frozen for 2-3 hours before you can slice it. The best part is that the slices didn’t harden after they cooled off. They were as good as when they came right off the pan. I was even able to make bacon cubes! Now that’s exciting because now we have toppings for salad, fried rice, etc.
So thanks to Sauce Stache, we now have the perfect vegan bacon!
I created a quicker version skipping the freezer time, the folding back and forth, the delicate cutting to get a thin slice and used instead rice paper. 2 round sheets make 5 slices, 3 perfect middle strips and 2 endings pieces (you can also buy square ones at Asian stores). You must work quickly because once they get wet, they tend to stick and get soft quickly. So have everything you need ready, like a pair of sharp scissors, a hot frying pan, the red paste, 2 spoons. The slices cook quickly so use thongs to grab and flip them. The paste need to be applied to both side for the most realistic look and texture. Rice paper sheets produce thinner and more brittle bacon and it can be made in less than 15 minutes! And the best part, no animal was harmed in the making of our facon! Here is the recipe.
Best Realistic Vegan Bacon
- 1 tsp beetroot powder
- 2 tbsp tapioca starch
- 1 tbsp mushroom powder
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 3 tsp liquid smoke
- 2 tbsp coconut oil at room temperature
- 4-6 sheets of rice paper
Prepare the red paste
- Heat up the 2 tbsp of coconut oil until it is liquid.
- Pour the liquid coconut oil in a bowl, add the maple syrup and the liquid smoke.
- Add the beetroot powder, mushroom extract, and tapioca starch and stir until you get a thick paste.
Prepare the strips
- Heat up a large frying pan with 1 tsp of oil.
- Get a pair of sharp scissors and set a clean working area.
- Take 2 rice paper sheets and quickly run them underwater on both sides. Stack one on top of the other.
- Working quickly, using scissors, cut strips the size of bacon strips. You should get 3 middle strips and 2 end parts.
- Using a spoon or your fingers, rub some of the red paste over each strip on one side and immediately place it in the hot frying pan.
- Make sure that the strips don't touch because they will be quite sticky. Flip after a minute.
- Apply a little more red paste with a spoon on the other side. Use a spatula to flatten the strips if they blister.
- Serve immediately.