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Make tempeh taste like bacon


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I realize that nothing tastes like bacon but I am a tempeh maker and have recently bought a cookshack smoker to make tempeh bacon. I have tried soaking the fresh tempeh in olive oil and then a marinade overnight. Mixed the marinade with oil, used veganaise to try to get it fatty (I think it needs fat). I have even put some xanthum gum in the mix which seems to work in keeping the marinade on the tempeh. Also the smoke gets stronger the next day and over powers the flavor. Realizing that some of you might think it sacreligous to make anything but pork taste like bacon, think of the poor vegetarians that are missing all the fun.

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You have huge resources in many centuries old cuisines. If one would dissect the "bacon" flavor I think aside from smokiness there is the unique sweetness that such products bring. Have you considered that? Fat without bringing a flavor does not seem needed. Good soy sauce plus sweet plus smoke perhaps?

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Don't know where my brain went....many "bacon bits" sold to be tossed into salads and the like are soy products. Googling quickly yields a recipe like this which uses soy sauce as the bacon umami and liquid smoke.

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I think, as far as vegetarian 'bacon' goes, tempeh is going to be the hardest to get the right flavor from. Both TVP and Seitan would be better choices to begin with. Even with those ingredients, it can still get kind of complicated, though. It's not the cheapest route, but there are some pretty good brands of vegetarian bacon available.

Not that smoked tempeh wouldn't taste good. If you are going that route, I'd start off simple- just make the tempeh and then smoke it for a bit, then adding salt during preparation (frying, I would think).

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A usual marinade for this is something along the lines of liquid smoke, soy sauce or braggs, vegetable oil, toasted sesame oil, and some sugar or maple syrup to taste. I would not add cumin (which I've had in tempeh bacon at one place by here, and it's awful). Obviously if you're smoking it yourself, no need to add the liquid smoke. Adding nutritional yeast is an old cheat to give it a more savory flavor.

A bunch of recipes online if you do a search.

No matter how much oil you use, I don't think you'll be able to make tempeh that "fatty". Tofu based "bacon" actually sometimes manages to convey the fatty / chewy texture a bit better, though it's harder to work with and harder to slice thin. You can use the same marinade, and then cook in the oven in a roasting pan. A restaurant here in LA (BLD) does a house-smoked tofu "bacon" which is really delicious.

For tofu, I use a modified version of the one from the Breitenbush cookbook.

* 1/4 C oil

* 1/4 C tamari[1]

* 2 Tbsp water

* 1 tsp garlic powder

* 1 tsp onion powder

* 1 tsp poultry seasoning

* 1/2 tsp black pepper

* Dash hickory smoke flavoring[2]

* 1 tsp sesame oil (optional)

* 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)

* 1/2 tsp curry powder

slice thin, marinate for 30+ minutes, bake at 450-500. Something along these lines should work for tempeh too.

Edited by Will (log)
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This reminds me of a joke one of my cook friends in Key West used on vegetarians.

"I know a way to make tofu taste like almost exactly like bacon."

The vegetarian's eyes would usually light up, as he or she asked, "How?"

"Fry it with bacon."

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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