I have a secret desire to be a hipster. Not really. But if I was a hipster, I’d probably be eating bacon right now.
Anyway, last year on one of my annual visits to Albany, NY, Brett introduced me to the notion of coconut “bacon” – which he once had at Aux Vivres, a vegan restaurant in Montreal. Brett’s method of duplicating said food was a process of microwaving coconut flakes in a marinade for short periods of time, stirring, and repeating until it was done. It was a trial-and-error process, but the results turned out great: Smokey, salty, crispy bacon chips. After my success with the Just Tomatoes Bacon Bits, I wanted to try something similar, but pan-frying in oil instead.
The most important ingredient? Coconut flakes. Most places sell small shreds of coconut – these won’t really work. You need something substantial. I discovered that my local Whole Foods started selling these bags of sliced & dehydrated coconut flakes for a few bucks. Score. Armed with some ideas from the Tempeh Bacon recipe in Vegan Brunch (my favorite cookbook), I was on my way.
- 1 cup of coconut flakes
- 3 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce – I pretty much only buy tamari these days)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon of liquid smoke
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
I mixed up the ingredients in a bowl, then stirred in the coconut flakes until they were mostly evenly coated. I let this sit to soak for about 15 minutes. I then dumped the bowl into a frying pan over medium-high heat. At this point, there was a decent amount of extra liquid in the pan, so I was aiming to carmalize that up a bit. You’ll need to watch this like a hawk – it can easily burn if you step away for any substantial amount of time. I give the pan a good stir every minute or so to make sure all the flakes were cooking nicely. As the flakes got crispier and darker, I lowered the heat (gradually) to prevent burning. Feel free to sample a bit or two along the way to see how the taste is progressing.
I was left with a nice amount of slightly crispy, bacon-colored, oily goodness. These come closest in texture and taste to what I remember as a bacon-eating kid compared to any other vegan analogues. I paired them with the “Perfect Pancakes” from Vegan Brunch and have enough flakes left over to use as a topping in a seitan sandwich for later on in the day.
Note: It looks like you can snag the coconut flakes I used on Amazon fairly cheaply.
I buy my coconut chips here:
“Is very good deal”
which whole foods had them? Ive been on a search for a bit and even tried fresh coconut which i can say doesnt work that well due to its water content. it also pops/sticks to your ceiling as I found out 🙂
I have evidence that Kevin created this recipe while riding around on his fixed speed bike and wearing a messenger bag. Either way, you, sir, are a sick chef. I just wish you made them when I was there!
Eric, I got the coconut flakes at the South Street Whole Foods (that is where I tend to do the majority of my shopping.)
making these now, but inquiring minds want to know about this seitan sandwich…recipe?
Thanks for posting this, coconut is such an interesting idea! I bet the consistency will be awesome. Smokey yummy, non-clogging-of-arteries goodness. MMMMMM
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