Sunday, January 18, 2009

January 17-18, 2009: Tempeh, not bacon

Tempeh bacon's had to wait a while to find its place in our kitchen. I've been wary of tempeh a long time - like tofu, it needs to be prepared with care and flair and I've eaten dull, dry renditions more often than not. And over the years I've seen many vegetarian marinades, including ones for tempeh bacon, calling for a mysterious ingredient called liquid smoke. I finally spotted it, almost by accident, in a deli at the Queen Victoria Markets last year and snapped it up. (It's proved a great addition to the already-awesome barbeque sauce.) The making of this recipe probably marks my graduation from a renewed tempeh interest (oh yeah, I made sushi again, this time with the actual tempeh) to a prolonged tempeh phase.

I think the most widely used tempeh bacon recipe comes from Vegan with a Vengeance, but since I don't have a copy I used a hybrid recipe from Jess of Get Sconed! and tinkered with it further. A finger lick of the marinade told me that this was potent and promising stuff, and the tempeh is sliced thinly to soak up as much of it as possible. As my not-bacon bits sizzled away, I set about making myself a B.L.T. T.L.T. on a half-baguette.

The verdict? Dang, that is good tempeh. Smoky, salty, and with a bit of bite, it doesn't particularly taste like bacon but it suits the greasy-bacon-rashers kinda role (and roll). Just to be sure, I had a fried-egg-and-not-bacon roll for brunch.

Yes. Yes, this will do quite nicely. And a tip for doubling your niceness? Mix together a little of the leftover marinade with some mayonnaise to spread on the roll. Saucilicious.

Tempeh, not bacon
(based on Jess' recipe at Get Sconed!)

300g tempeh
4 tablespoons soy sauce
~1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 teaspoons tomato paste
vegetable oil, for frying

Slice the tempeh into the thinnest sheets you can.

Whisk the rest of the ingredients (except the oil) together in a bowl.

Spread some of the marinade on the base of a shallow tray, lay out the tempeh, and spread over more marinade. Let the tempeh soak up the yum for at least a couple of hours; pop it in the fridge and it'll last for days.

When the tempeh's ready, pour a little oil in a fry pan a heat it to medium/high. Fry the tempeh strips until they darken and crisp up a little.


  1. I think I have tried this once and couldn't remember where I got the recipe (I thought it was elsewhere from VwaV) but I love the sound of your version and feel the need to try it again - never got into BLT sandwiches before I went veg but yours look excellent! (And I can't resist calling it Facon, as in faux bacon)

  2. last year i too was frustrated and intrigued by the mysterious 'liquid smoke' substance that seemed to be at the fingertips of everyone in america, but denied to us over in australia, until i stumbled across an enormous bottle of it in a little gourmet food shop in newcastle. of course i bought it straight away and the first thing i made with it was a big batch of 'fakin' with tempeh. it was ok, not great, but i blame that on the recipe - i don't own a copy of vwav either and used a recipe i ripped off the net, but i still have a LOT of liquid smoke left, will have to give your recipe a try.
    fyi liquid smoke is also really good in chili, scrambled tofu and if you stir a couple of drops into some regular old bbq sauce - WATCH OUT!!! POW! smokey goodness!

  3. ummmmmmm, that looks yummy. Heck, I reckon you could fool a real bacon lover with that!

  4. Cool. Looks like a great recipe!

  5. oh yeah, i reckon i could get into this. I haven't actually tried tempeh yet because I don't see it often (i usually don't get to many shops other than our local ones and a supermarket).

    I do love my liquid smoke though and so will have to find some tempeh and give it a go.

    Some drops of liquid smoke do wonders in mexican food too - whenever i'm making a bean filling for burritos or something like that...

  6. Johanna, I think facon's a cute name for it as well. :-)

    Pip, Michael is going to LOVE your tip on adding liquid smoke to chili (and probably scrambled 'fu as well).

    Thanks, Maria. :-)

    Hi, William! It's worth a go if you can track down some liquid smoke.

    Stoo, liquid smoke + Mexican food is a great idea! Our local supermarket doesn't stock tempeh either - I recently saw some on a rare trip to a different one and bought a couple of packs to stash in the freezer. I might try to make that a habit!