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Thursday, October 06, 2011

Tempeh Bacon

October 2, 2011
We're no strangers to tempeh-based mock-bacon, with Cindy's version a fixture in our favourite recipe list. As tasty it is, it's not really anything like bacon. In particular there's a complete lack of the crispiness that wowed us at Las Vegan, so when I saw Carla's version I was keen to try a different approach.

This recipe offered up two innovations: steaming the tempeh first to improve its marinade soaking-up ability and grilling rather than frying the tempeh strips. I'd give two thumbs up to the first, but a frustrated thumbs down to the second. Steaming the tempeh makes it much more absorbent than just using it straight out of the packet, meaning the flavours permeate right through the thin slices. I think we'll be doing this whenever we marinate tempeh in future.

Grilling the tempeh proved tricky. Carla's recommendation of 10 minutes on each side twice under a high grill didn't work for us - after the first ten minutes I'd basically turned one side of the tempeh black. I tried again using a low grill heat and turning the strips every 5 minutes or so - after two runs through we had some reasonably crispy and tasty tempehcon strips. Getting them crispy basically means drying them right out, so serving them with something that has a bit of moisture to it would be wise.

I think I'll try frying next time to see if I can get something I'm a bit happier with - I'm definitely going to fiddle around with this recipe until I hit the jackpot.

Tempeh bacon
(recipe from Easy as Vegan Pie)

200g packet tempeh, sliced into thin strips
1/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon liquid smoke

Steam the tempeh slices for about 10 minutes, until they soften and turn white.

Combine the marinade ingredients. Cover the tempeh with the marinade and leave for as long as you can afford (we did it overnight, but less time would probably work okay).

Grill the tempeh pieces under a low grill, turning regularly until they crisp up and get nice and brown - watch them carefully, they go from delicious to tasting like charcoal very quickly.


  1. I concur - tempeh always is too soft or too dry when I have tried to make it into bacon - yet there must be a way so will be interested to hear how you go

  2. glad half worked. my griller is shit I should take that into consideration! yeah Iv'e had tempeh bacon dried out in a dehydrator... to get it crispy means either full fat frying (so will still be a bit juicy) or dry... it's a tough one but I lean towards fully dried crumbly... perhaps thats just my hatred of tempeh!

  3. My sole attempt in making tempeh bacon almost destroyed my best non-stick frying pan and it wasn't a great result either. Would like to try again in a cast iron pan but I don't own one (yet).

  4. Johanna GGG - the delicious ones we sampled at Las Vegan tell me there must indeed be a way!

    Carla - thanks, you're getting us that bit closer to the Las Vegan gold standard. :-)

    Mel - oh no! If we trial frying we'll try to learn from your fry-pan and be cautious.

  5. Where did you find liquid smoke? I've been hunting for it forever!

  6. Hi Lou! We buy it from the deli in Lygon Court, Carlton. I think the primary source of it in Melbourne is USA Foods (and I think they do mail order if you're outside of Melbourne!).

  7. Liquid smoke is also available at David Jones City store in the Food Court

  8. Liquid Smoke is also now available at the Radical Grocery Store in Brunswick!!

    1. Isn't Radical Grocery the best? Thanks for adding it to the list. Jay.