I pride myself on being fairly adventurous when it comes to food. Within reason. I seriously doubt there would be a circumstance that would see me tucking into witchetty grubs or guinea pig.
But funnily enough, despite knowing about coconut bacon for years I had until very recently never tried it, let alone made it. Silly woman. If I had realised how stupidly easy it is to make I could have saved myself years of bacon-deprived salads, baked potatoes, pancakes, blah blah. Because bacon does go with everything, right? I mean people make jam from it, and stuff it into cupcakes. It’s even in chocolate for goodness sake. Chocolate!
Alongside a short stack seems so last century.
I am not sure of the origins of coconut bacon but, commercially, Phoney Baloney in the US bags its spot as purveyor in chief of this most delicious of comestibles. Luckily for us in the rest of the world (and smart Americans) the basic recipe is not only ridiculously easy, but pretty inexpensive too. And animal-friendly. Not, however, so friendly to innocent coconuts. Poor them. :-(
The only vaguely tricky bits are 1) getting the correct coconut, at least here in the UK. Most supermarkets only stock the dreaded desiccated coconut (nasty stuff – makes me cough), so a health food shop, larger Asian shops and online are your best bet. At least it is pretty cheap and keeps well, so a big bag is a good investment. I got a decent-sized bag of organic stuff for less than £2 at Real Foods (which has an online shop too). Tricky bit 2) obtaining the Liquid Smoke. You can get it from souschef.co.uk, although I got mine on a trip to the US. It’s essential to the recipe and available at all US grocery stores. But the method is very, very easy. Promise.
Next post (perhaps tomorrow) is my green take of the famous huevos rancheros, covered in an avalanche of coconut bacon. My version is basically a vehicle for coconut bacon. Sounds a bit OTT perhaps, but once you smell that smoky, nutty aroma wafting through your house you’ll be doing the same. I think coconut bacon can make almost anything taste good.
Coconut bacon-covered witchetty grubs anyone?
Maple Coconut Bacon
This is a hugely versatile, deliciously smoky little comestible that – unlike the ‘real thing’ – is actually quite good for you. Can’t say fairer than that really.
There are many web recipes for coconut bacon, but this is my version.
100g (2 cups) dried coconut flakes (not desiccated)
1 tbsp Liquid Smoke ® (I bought mine in the US but in the UK get it from Souschef)
¾ tbsp maple syrup (up to 1 tbsp if you like)
1 tbsp soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos (I used reduced salt soy sauce)
A small pinch of ground white pepper, optional
Fine-grained salt (like Himalayan pink salt), optional
1. Preheat your oven to 150C/300F. Line two baking trays with baking parchment.
2. Pour the coconut flakes into a large mixing bowl.
3. In a small bowl mix together the Liquid Smoke, maple syrup, soy sauce and optional pepper. Pour this over the coconut flakes and gently toss through with your fingers.
4. Spread the coated coconut evenly over the two lined baking trays and sprinkle over a little salt if you like. Bake in the oven until the coconut is a dark golden colour – about 15 minutes, or until crisp. The coconut will crisp further upon cooling.
5. The coconut bacon keeps very well in an airtight container – up to 2 week for best flavour and texture, but longer if reheated in the oven for a couple of minutes.
How to use your coconut bacon: I will soon be posting a waffle recipe and a huevos rancheros recipe using coconut bacon, but in the meantime try it as a “CBLT’, sprinkled on avocado toast, to top creamy pasta dishes (vegan or not), on baked potatoes, as a salad topper (like that stuff you get in the tubs at the supermarket but WAY nicer), in and on velvety smooth soups, pressed onto just baked donuts or cupcakes (see this vegan recipe from PETA for the donuts) – even smoodged into peanut butter and jam sandwiches (guilty as charged). You will find loads of uses for it. That is if can keep from eating it straight from the tray!
Want more? Here are some other vegetables you can turn into ‘bacon’!
Shiitake Mushrooms, from Guy Gone Vegan
And some Beans and Buckwheat too, from No Meat Athlete