Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tempeh Bacon

This recipe is from Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day by Tamasin Noyes and Celine Steen.

Recipe: see page 179 of Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day.

There are a few different recipes for meat alternatives in Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day.

"Gobbler Slices" is a seitan that simulates luncheon meat in sandwiches like the "North End Grinder", "Dagwood's Special Sandwich", and "The Party Monster".

"Mushroom Tomato Slices" is a seitan cold cut analog that features sun dried tomatoes, porcini mushrooms and black-eyed peas.

"No Cluck Cutlets" replaces chicken in sandwiches such as the "Rachel" (a variation on the Reuben), ""Retro KFC-Style Sandwiches", and "Puff Pastry Pot Pie Sandwiches".

"Moo-Free Seitan" is a versatile seitan recipe that is used in "Pittsburgh Steak Sandwiches" (a take on the Philly Cheesesteak), and the "Wingwich" (a Hot Wing sandwich), as well as a number of others.

There is even a recipe that uses tempeh to try to approximate fish sticks so you can make the "Unfishwich", which may be a variation on the famous McDonald's Fishwich sandwich.

And then there's bacon.

First, let me say, I enjoyed this recipe. I am a fiend for tempeh. I love tempeh and have it at least 3 times a week. It's high protein, high fiber, and when bought from Trader Joe's, comparatively cheap ($1.69 for 8 ounces, AND it's organic. That's cheaper than a can of organic beans around here. AND that's about $4 less than a brick of tempeh at any of the major chain stores).

In this recipe, you set the tempeh strips in a smoky flavored marinade overnight, then bake it in the oven the next day, then store until you are ready to fry them up and serve them.

Maybe it's the nature of the Trader Joe's tempeh, but I've never seen it really absorb any kind of marinade, ever. The strips are only a quarter of an inch thick, so the marinade doesn't have far to go to permeate the entire slice, but it just didn't make it. I cut one of these open after marinading and baking and it was still white on the inside. That may be why the flavor was mild, which was a bit of a letdown. I wonder if another brand of tempeh may absorb better.

It has a smoky and mildly sweet flavor. The marinade stuck to the outside, so it does have a little flavor.  It tastes more like tempeh in a light barbeque sauce than something approximating bacon. I don't know if the flavor was worth the overnight wait, and the additional step of baking before frying.

Like I said, I still enjoyed it, but the term bacon is kind of misleading. It's a loaded word that comes with a lot of expectations. I wouldn't serve this to an omni bacon-lover and say 'this is a vegan version of bacon'. I'd never hear the end of that. I'd say 'this is smoky tempeh', or 'hickory tempeh'. I wouldn't use the term bacon. 

Ingredients: tempeh (Trader Joe's Organic 3-Grain Tempeh used here), vegetable broth, maple syrup, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, tamari, cumin, coriander, sea salt, onion powder, garlic powder, liquid smoke, olive oil.