Recently I had a little breakthrough on the facon front, and I've been looking forward to sharing it with friends. The opportunity came when one of them suggested a DIY degustation to celebrate her birthday - each guest signed up to prepare a different course, and we all took it in turns to cater to the group in a sprawling afternoon banquet (which I tweeted as #diydegust).
My facon innovation is to start with these dried beancurd pieces, procured from Minh Phat. They're just the size and shape for replacing chunky-chopped bacon, they're well structured for soaking up salty-smoky-sweet marinade, and they get a little charred and chewy when fried in a modest amount of oil. No, they're not going to fool anyone who still eats bacon, but I reckon they make a damn good carbonara (especially with this sauce, just to bastardise the dish even further).
Inspired by our recent fine dining experience, I took the degustation theme more seriously than the birthday gal intended. I spent many days, on and off, pondering what fanciful dish would best showcase this facon. And I settled on breakfast; a miniature, vegan, gluten-free and garlic-less breakfast. It featured:
- herb omelette: based on the Vegan Brunch recipe, without the garlic, adding chives and parsley, and then fried pikelet-sized
- facon pieces: beancurd pieces marinated in my usual tempeh bacon concoction with allergy-friendly subs (soy sauce → tamari, garlic powder → onion powder) for about half an hour, then fried in a little oil until tender and slightly charred
- hash browns: also thanks to Vegan Brunch, and baked in a muffin tray
- tomato jam: my colleague's recipe, sans garlic
- a miserly mimosa: served in a shot glass, with soda water in lieu of expensive vegan-friendly champagne.
It was a bit of effort to plan and prepare, but surprisingly easy to transport, reheat and plate up for a table of ten. The DIY degustation was a raging success all round - every course different, all of them delicious, and not a foam to be found.