Isa Chandra Moskowitz is right—vegans will make bacon out of anything. Eggplant, coconut, mushrooms and tempeh have all been used to recreate various crispy and salty bacon analogs. While some may balk at the concept, I happen to love it, as it shows that the smoky, savory and greasy quality of bacon—the aspects that make it so endearing to foodies and meat eaters—can be easily replicated using completely vegan ingredients.
This idea certainly isn’t mine, but I decided I’d try it out after after buying a huge bag of shiitake mushrooms in Chinatown late last week. I’ve seen two varieties of shiitakes in Boston—”flower mushrooms” (花菇) large, meaty ones with thick stems and “winter mushrooms” (冬菇) lighter, spongier ones with slender stems. I used the larger (and significantly cheaper) kind for making these, and they were perfect in this application. They came out of the oven crispy along the edges, and slightly chewier and succulent towards the center. Besides eating them as is, these would be perfect sprinkled on top of a vegan clam chowder or split pea soup, served alongside a tofu scramble or french toast, tossed in roasted brussel sprouts or used in a sandwich.
1 TB olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
2 cups shiitake mushroom caps, sliced thinly
Preheat oven to 350. Place a silpat over a baking sheet, set aside.
Combine all of the ingredients except for the sliced shiitake into a shallow glass pyrex or bowl. Whisk to combine.
Add in the sliced shiitake, and stir gently to combine. Allow to marinate for 20 minutes to an hour.
Place the shiitake in a single layer onto the silpat. Bake for 10 minutes, flip, then bake for an additional 15 minutes*. Increase the heat to 375, then bake for 10 minutes more. Flip, then finish for 10 more minutes. Keep an eye on them towards the end to ensure they do not burn.
Remove from the oven and place on paper towels to drain. As they drain, the edges will become crispy. Serve immediately.
*Baking times will differ based on the thickness and type of shiitake you are using. After baking for 15-20 minutes, just keep an eye on them to prevent burning.