The Great De-Bacon

13 Mar

Or, tempeh vs. not tempeh fakin’ bacon.

If you’re veg, chances are you laid off the meat strips (or maybe not, who knows).  But even if you haven’t touched it in decades, you probably have had a little bit of experience with it, what with the recent strange bacon trend the foodie world has been encountering.  And if it’s not bacon itself, than it was probably some variation.  I, for one,have  received band aids that look exactly like bacon strips.  Because what better to hide my own scabs than bandages that look like cartoon scabs.

Anyway, there are lots of fakin’ bacon recipes out there, but it may just come down to a tempeh bacon (common) vs. red bean and wheat germ bacon (not so common) debate.  And I was obviously looking for something to do Sunday morning when I decided to whip up both batches for a taste test.

First up, the old standby, tempeh.  While there are lots of variations, this one came based off of the recipe in The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

Tempeh Bacon

  • 1 package tempeh
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Liquid Smoke
  • 2 TB maple syrup (the recipe calls for the real stuff, but I just used Mrs. Butterworth…)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • oil for frying

Steam or boil tempeh for about 10 minutes or until soft and pliable.  When cool, cut into bacon-like strips.  Mix up soy sauce, Liquid Smoke, maple syrup, and water in big bowl–plop the tempeh in and let marinate for a little while.  I think I did a half hour.  Heat oil in skillet and fry over high heat, about 5 minutes each side.  The tempeh should turn brown and caramelize a bit.

So, I got ahead of myself a bit.  While the tempeh bacon was marinating, I started up with this no soy fakin’ bacon recipe, taken from the No Meat Athlete site.  By the way, if you’re a no meat athlete, go visit!  Great tips on running, diet, and all around good health.

I didn’t quite have everything the recipe called for, like the buckwheat, the paprika, and the nutritional yeast, but I substituted wheat germ for the buckwheat and omitted the others.  My red bean and wheat germ bacon didn’t come out in nice, long, glorious strips, and wanted to stay a bit crumbly in the pan, but that might be because of the ingredient sub.  Or I needed a longer bake time.  Either way…

…winner, taste wise?

Red bean and wheat germ bacon, for sure.  It was salty, crispy, and certainly not as sweet as the tempeh bacon, which had a little too much maple flavor for me (and that could be remedied by putting less maple syrup into the marinade).  But even the tempeh bacon had that tempeh aftertaste.  The red bean and wheat germ recipe did not.

YUM.  Since it’s crumbly, I’ve been sprinkling it on salads, using it to top oven-baked brussel sprouts, but mostly just nibbling on it plain.  I’d still call this ingredient sub a success, because the taste is there–use it to add “What is that, I thought you were veg?” flavor to lots of savory dishes.

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