Has the world gone mad?
Isn’t that as far as you can get from actual bacon?
And why are you trying to copy meat dishes?
One of my non-vegetarian friends would scoff at the absurdity. And he would probably wolf it down happily too.
But the most important questions of all are: Where can I get some? How do I make it? (patience, the recipe is below).
First off, this is a delicacy to be reckoned with. A super crisp experience between the teeth, exploding with sweet and spicy flavours on the tongue. As a raw foodie and long standing vegetarian, true crispiness is the thing I’ve missed the most in the evolution of my diet. The dehydrator presents the answer in the raw food world.
But bacon…? Clearly it’s not bacon, it’s been nowhere near a piggy. Thankfully. It is most definitely plant food. Nor is it smoked. Well, mine isn’t, but the recipe I’ve been using from Matthew Kenney, Meredith Baird and Scott Winegard’s book ‘Plant Food’ does instruct the use of a smoking gun. That always brings a comic picture to my mind. No, there’s no murder of anyone or anything involved in the preparation of this recipe.
The Smoking Gun is a technical piece of kitchen gadgetry that is yet to be added to my armoury. It involves a battery-powered hand held element with a tube (the gun), wood chips (to create the flavour) and a glass cloche or other chamber (to bathe the food in aromatic smoke).
So how do we go about creating this dish?
The ‘meat’ is coconut flesh that is marinated low and slow during dehydration in a seductive blend of cumin, chipotle chilli, smoked paprika, tamari and maple syrup to give that perfect salty sweet tang.
‘Plant Food’ gives two slightly different recipes for Coconut Bacon: I picked the second one. I used dried coconut chips/flakes and discovered that I needed to adjust the proportions of water and coconut from the original recipe (which uses shredded fresh coconut). I have given my version here as fresh coconut flesh is harder to find here in UK, and have added my notes in the method section.
by Matthew Kenney, Meredith Baird and Scott Winegard
Recipe reproduced with kind permission from the Matthew Kenney team
4 cups dried coconut chips/flakes
1 tsp chipotle chile powder
1/4 cup ground cumin
1 tbs smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs tamari
1 tbs apple cider vinegar
Blend the spices, water, maple syrup, oil, tamari, vinegar and salt in a blender until smooth.
Pour over the coconut flakes in a bowl. You will notice a small pool of excess liquid at the bottom, this is ok.
NB If you leave it to marinate for 30 mins the extra liquid will be absorbed.
Spread the coconut evenly on a dehydrator sheet with non-stick sheet, and pour the extra liquid over the coconut.
Dehydrate at 115 degrees for 8-10 hours, or until crispy throughout. It helps if you break up the layer into pieces after a few hours, and flip it over and remove the non-stick sheet once it’s dry enough. When the recommended drying time has elapsed you will notice that the ‘bacon’ is not crispy-crispy but as it cools it will go super crispy.
If you have a smoking gun, smoke the bacon using apple wood. Place the bacon in a bowl, cover it with a lid or plastic wrap, and leave the smoking tube inside the bowl. Let the smoke set covered in bowl for about 10 minutes.
Store in an airtight container. (Try not to eat it all before it goes in the jar).
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Now that you have your stash of coconut ‘bacon’ (and it won’t last long! it’s very moreish), you have a great snack food to munch when you’re out and about, or stuck at your desk. Or a satisfying topper for a salad.
You also have a key ingredient for a raw BLT sandwich. Bring on the raw bread or crackers, something creamy, sliced tomato and crunchy lettuce and hey presto! Lunch, tea, picnic, takeaway… it’s very transportable.
I have the guys as Raw Imagination to thank for this genius idea. Imagine how excited I was when I moved to London and visited my soon-to-be local health food shop – the vast As Nature Intended in Balham – and in the lunch fridge found raw foods from 5 or 6 producers! Yes, the raw BLT from Raw Imagination was my lunch that day and I have to say it changed my whole perspective on moving to the Big Smoke.