Vegan bacon?!

I recently made some new friends who are vegans. That may sound like “making friends with collectors of dryer lint” but I assure you that they are actually pretty cool people. As I love to cook for friends, I tried my hands at vegan cuisine. I’m not a vegan, but tackling vegan cuisine is akin to trying a new, unfamiliar, ethnic cuisine. It’s a fun challenge.

The first thing I attempted was mini BLT sandwiches for a potluck dinner. (“BLT” are “bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches”.) The two ingredients that were challenging were bacon and mayonnaise. It’s not difficult to find vegan mayonnaise, though I had to mortgage my house to buy a jar of the stuff. I found several brands of vegan mayonnaise at a local Whole Foods. It tasted quite decent and surprisingly close to real mayonnaise.

The other challenge was, obviously, the bacon. I scoured the Web for a vegan bacon recipe and settled on one from that seemed promising. The recipe used coconut chips as the base ingredient. Coconut chips turned out to be quite hard to find. The coconut chips that I found had too much small bits of coconut in the mix. The smaller bits would char too easily in the oven. I needed to sift the chips to isolate the bigger chips.

Since I didn’t have a sifter of the appropriate size, I made a sifter using the cardboard stock from a cereal box. I punched the sifter’s holes with a paper punch:

sieve for coconut chips, made from cereal box

sieve for coconut chips, made from cereal box

I baked the chips at a much lower temperature than called for in the recipe. The recipe’s 350° for 5-10 minutes resulted in burnt chips that were not as crispy as I’d have liked. Instead, I baked at 150°-175° for a long time. The process was more akin to dehydrating than baking.

bake/dehydrate at approximately 150 °

The chips keep for a long time, weeks, in an airtight container.
If you want that umpteenth degree of crispiness, you can always toast them in the oven for a few minutes before using.