Smoky “Bacon” Flavor and Crunch
I know bacon is big for some people. Just watch TV for an hour or so, and you’ll see a commercial for a sandwich or breakfast involving close-ups of bacon. I do remember bacon from the way back, and how it was an intense food, fatty, crunchy, sweet, smoky. But I am much happier to make a bacon-y treat from plants. This “plant-based bacon” is made from trumpet mushrooms, and it’s pretty intense, too.
Plant-Based Bacon is the Bomb
Flavor Bomb, that is. We start with a mushroom, a plant famed for its umami chemicals. Umami, according to this article in Science Direct.com, is the meatiness caused by the presence of sodium salts of glutamic and aspartic amino acids and 5′-nucleotides. What that means is that mushrooms have an extra chemical punch when you eat them, that makes your brain perceive them as more “meaty” and satisfying. Then, we add another umami star, smoke.
Plant-Based Bacon With Smoked Salt
I’ve showed you how to use your grill to make smoked mushrooms. I show you how to make a pizza with them, too. But just in case you want instant gratification (who doesn’t?) you can always use smoked salt. I really dug into smoked salts when I was writing my book Plant Based Meats, and I learned that there is great variation between the salts and how they are made. Some are actually smoked over wood, and some are flavored with a smoky oil before drying. If you like smoky flavors, it’s fun to try salts smoked with different woods, like cherry, hickory and mesquite. I use a pretty standard, fine-textured hickory smoked salt here.
Sweetness and Spice
From there, all you need is some sugar, and paprika. Yes, you could use smoked paprika, but the salt is pretty smoky, so it is a bit of overkill. I fry mine in unrefined coconut oil, for that saturated fat mouthfeel. Always go with refined, unless you want your “bacon” to taste like coconut.
This really is a quick and easy way to get some intense flavor and crunch into a sandwich. If you miss BLT’s, this might just give you the same vibe. Or, it might just be a delicious smoky, mushroom-y sandwich all on its own, and that is just as good.
Smoky TLT Sandwich
- 8 ounces large trumpet mushroom
- 1 tablespoon smoked salt
- 1 tablespoon organic turbinado sugar
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- refined coconut oil
- 4 slices bread, can be whole grain, GF toasted
- vegan mayo
- butter lettuce, tomatoes
- First, slice the mushroom stems across the stem in rounds, slicing them about as thick as a quarter. Prepare two paper towel lined sheet pans.
- Place the slices on a sheet pan.
- In a cup, stir the smoked salt, sugar and paprika. Sprinkle lightly over the mushroom slices, then turn the slices and sprinkle again. Let stand for 10 minutes to "cure."
- Pat the slices dry with a paper towel.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat a tablespoon or so of coconut oil. When hot, place the slices in the pan, not touching. As they brown, turn, cooking for a minute or two per side-and reducing the heat as needed to keep from burning.
- Transfer each slice to the remaining sheet pan as it is browned, but not burned.
- Spread the bread with mayo, and build two sandwiches with "bacon," tomato slices and lettuce, serve immediately.