I used to assume that a vegan interpretation of bacon was pure folly. So much of the texture and flavor of bacon is undeniably “meaty,” and besides, it’s such a beloved ingredient that there are T-shirts that loudly proclaim “vegetarian…except for bacon.” Fortunately, eggplant bacon swooped in and changed my mind some time ago, and now coconut bacon has entered the stage as well.
I’ve had coconut bacon at raw eateries before. The ones I’ve tried were made with young coconut meat, but to me, that’s such a special and precious ingredient that I hated the idea of overpowering it with a marinade. When I found coconut flakes (basically like shredded coconut, but with much larger pieces) recently, it occurred to me that they’d work every bit as well. Plus, they’ve already got a crumbled texture, so they’re perfect for sprinkling onto salads or atop baked potatoes–a vegan interpretation of “bacon bits!”
Coconut flakes can be tricky to find. I stumbled on them (they’re made by a company called Edward & Sons Trading Co.) at a health food store and later found them on Amazon , though right now they’re only being sold in 12-packs, which isn’t very convenient unless you plan on making a whole lot of coconut bacon That said, regular shredded coconut will also work, and deliver the same amount of flavor. If you can’t find coconut flakes, just look for a shredded coconut with larger flake size.
Above, you’ll see my toasted version of coconut bacon. Though a dehydrator works perfectly here, I wanted to give both a raw and cooked version for this one, so I tested it both ways. They’re both really good. The slightly toasted (or even burnt) edges of the oven version are particularly tasty!
1. Whisk the tamari, vinegar, and syrup in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add the coconut and mix it around until it's all evenly coated. Allow the coconut to absorb the marinade for at least thirty minutes.
2. To prepare in a dehydrator, spread the coconut on a Teflex lined dehydrator sheet and dehydrate for 8 hours, or until crispy and dry. You can mix it around a few times to make sure it dehydrates evenly.
To prepare in the oven, preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. Spread the coconut evenly over a foil or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the coconut is golden and smells fragrant.
Sprinkle the bacon on salads, over baked potatoes, stuff it into wraps, or mix it into cooked grains/legumes. Enjoy!
My current favorite use for coconut bacon is this:
Layer a couple of romaine leaves with tomato slices, avocado slices, and coconut bacon. Such a perfect, satisfying snack or lunch component!
Hope you give this flavorful recipe a try. And I wish you a happy start to the week.