Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Cooking experiment: coconut bacon

Ever since I ate the coconut bacon BLT at Aux Vivres in Montreal, I've been thinking about how I could create something similar at home. This weekend I bought a few things in order to try it out.

The main ingredient is, of course, coconut flakes. The recipes I found online seemed to advocate stripping the inside of an actual coconut for this, but that wasn't really an option for me. Instead, I went to the baking section of the supermarket, and picked up a couple of tubes of Whitworths Coconut Chunks. These chunks are about half a centimetre across, but they're too hard for this recipe unless you chop them into little translucent slivers. This is quite tedious and fiddly work, so put on a CD or something while you're doing that. It took me about twenty minutes altogether to get the small amount I needed for this first experiment.

This is a teeny tiny Tupperware.

The next part was taking care of the flavour. The internet consensus was liquid smoke to get a smoky bacon flavour. Huh? Given that this was the first time in my life I'd ever even heard of liquid smoke, and it sounded a bit sketchy anyway, I turned to some dried chipotle peppers we had in the house. I chopped up a whole one into tiny little bits, but next time I'll use half.

I put the chipotle and the coconut into a frying pan, adding a couple of dashes of soya sauce (you don't want too much or it'll be left in a pool in the pan afterwards). I heated it on medium for a few minutes, making sure it mixed and soaked well.

Put it on a pitta which had the lettuce and tomato ready, along with a bit of my new vegan mayo!

I was really pleased with the taste and the texture, although as I said, I'll put less chipotle in next time. There are a few coconut bacon recipes floating around out there, but after looking at a few of them and despairing, I improvised with the ingredients that were available to me. I think it's more budget and less niche. However, I will be looking out for bigger coconut chunks - you know, like you can get bags of trail mix - because I don't want to lose hours of my life chopping coconut slivers.

P.S. It goes without saying that it's not about looks! This isn't meant to look like bacon, it's meant to be a replacement for taste and texture. That being said, my friend Alice has passed me a recipe for fake bacon (facon) that you make in a tin like flapjacks, so I look forward to trying that soon too.