Shiitake Bacon & a Vegan BLT

January 17, 2013
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12-12-04_ShiitakeBacon

Bacon, bacon, bacon, bacon, for years everyone has been obsessed with bacon. The craze reached a fever pitch somewhere around 2010/11 and while every expert has predicted [hoped for] its demise ever since our addiction to bacon seems to give no hint of waning.

Not only are there stacks of savory recipes out there but you can find hundreds of festivals in celebration of it and websites devoted to its existence. Then, as is always the case with any trend, bacon made its way into desserts. You can’t argue with sweet and savory as an enticing combo, but when fast food joints jump on the bacon dessert bandwagon one has to ask if it has gone to far.

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But what about those of us who aren’t carnivores? How much have we been missing out on? I’ve always said that if I ever start eating meat again, sausage and bacon are some of the first things I’d go for – they just smell so good – but in the meantime my diet has been severely lacking in bacon-y goodness. Sure you can get faux soy bacon but really… no, just no.

We never much had bacon growing up but I do fondly recall occasional BLT nights. It was one of the easiest meals ever for mom to make – not that there is anything wrong with that – and we got to help. I always liked mine extra crispy, and while bacon cupcakes and bacon doughnuts and bacon toffee sound intriguing, a good BLT is one of the things I’ve missed most.

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On our last trip we spent some time with my brother and his little family in Philly. They went meat-free a few years back and have worked their way through most of the vegan restaurants in the city. When he mentioned Shiitake Bacon to me I had the same slightly stunned look on my face that I’ve witnessed each time I’ve described it to people since. When we got back from our holiday it was one of the first things I tried.

So a quick commercial break for an interjection of science… not really science, just some info, science makes it sound official. Both types of mushrooms in the pic below are shiitake. Yep, really. For all the brief intensive searching I did, the best thing I could find was this post over here. Turns out that shiitake mushrooms – Xiang Gu or fragrant mushroom – come in two different forms.

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Dong Gu or winter mushroom is the smooth one that looks almost velvety. Hua Gu or flower mushroom has a more button mushroom shape and a cracked pattern. Either will work a treat for this recipe. Also if you haven’t worked it out yet, Gu=Mushroom. Science and language all in one, it’s like a virtual cultural exchange round these parts – ha!

Now I can’t attest – yet – to how Shiitake Bacon would work in desserts, but used on a sandwich with lettuce and tomato for lunch, served with eggs for brunch, or topping a Vegan Mushroom & Lentil Burger for dinner it is stunning.

Tell me, have you ever made any crazy bacon creations?

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28 Responses to Shiitake Bacon & a Vegan BLT

  1. Em on January 17, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    I have never made any crazy bacon creations, but I just want to say that after spending so much time in the USA, hubby now much prefers the crispy crunchy bacon the Americans do, as sopposed to the soggy limp stuff we get served here.

    • JJ on January 19, 2013 at 1:08 am

      Bacon here cracks me up – it is ham! *ducks from Aussies throwing pork products*

      • Nic on January 19, 2013 at 8:12 am

        I agree! I make my own UK style streaky bacon which actually goes crispy when you cook it! As for Mushroom bacon, it’s a great idea, if you don’t eat meat! And the photo of the BLT is just gorgeous!

  2. Christine @ Cooking Crusade on January 17, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    OMGGG this is AMAZING JJ! Thank you so much for posting it :D Can’t wait to try it!!

    • JJ on January 19, 2013 at 1:08 am

      Yay! Let me know how it goes

  3. vegeTARAian on January 17, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Wow wow wow! Cannot wait to try this at home!!

    • JJ on January 19, 2013 at 1:07 am

      I thought you’d like this one ;D

  4. Eha on January 17, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    So much fun!!! Have no shiitakes at home, but brought a whole tray of Portobellos at the markets yesterday!! So guess what! I’m game :) !

    • JJ on January 19, 2013 at 1:09 am

      I do wonder if it works with any other mushrooms but haven’t tried… would love to hear how it goes!

  5. Claire @ Claire K Creations on January 17, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    How very intriguing JJ! I saw fresh shiitake mushrooms at the markets on Sunday and the lovely mushroom man gave me some to try for free. If only I didn’t use them all in last night’s stir fry. Oh well will just have to buy more this weekend!

    • JJ on January 19, 2013 at 1:10 am

      I used my leftover ones to stir fry with garlic – drool!

  6. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella on January 17, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Hehe one of my most notorious recipes was for Bacon Jam! :P I have tried this too-it wasn’t bad although it was quite salty from memory :)

    • JJ on January 19, 2013 at 1:11 am

      I’ll have to check it out! I found that sprinkling the salt from a height – ala Jamie style – put a bit on each but didn’t make it too salty :)

  7. Hari Qhuang on January 18, 2013 at 5:34 am

    The crispy mushroom bacon stripes look so alluring! I am so gonna try it! (Bought some huge flower mushroom yesterday):D

    • JJ on January 19, 2013 at 1:12 am

      Glad I found your description it was bugging me as to why they looked so different!

  8. Laura (Tutti Dolci) on January 18, 2013 at 6:55 am

    Love this! I don’t like bacon at all but I love shiitakes – this is my kind of bacon!

    • JJ on January 19, 2013 at 1:07 am

      excellent!

  9. Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy on January 18, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Ooh I love this! I am not sure if it will completely lure me away from bacon but it will be a great alternative for when I need to be a little more virtuous.

  10. sara on January 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Such a cool idea – love this! That sandwich looks great! :)

  11. Julia {The Roasted Root} on January 18, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Using shiitake mushrooms for a BLT is tasty, healthy and genius! Your BLT looks wonderful and it’s exactly what I want for lunch tomorrow!

  12. Mei on January 20, 2013 at 6:31 am

    This, honestly, resulted in the most bacon like texture I have ever found in a bacon substitute. It was AMAZING. I used reduced sodium soy sauce and liquid smoke as a marinade first and skipped the salt (since, really, even reduced sodium soy sauce provided more than enough salt!), just because I know I like the smokey taste in my vegan bacon and it was just awesome. So much so that I’m actually commenting – which I don’t think I’ve ever done a recipe website! The only issue I have with this recipe is “how am I ever going to find the willpower not to make this every other day?”

    thanks for sharing!

    • Kacer on March 21, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      I was thinking that this idea would be a bit more ‘authentic’ per a bacon flavor, do now you have one, I have to try it.

  13. Mushrooms Canada on January 22, 2013 at 4:16 am

    Now THIS is my kind of bacon! I can’t wait to try it out on my next BLT :) This summer, my boyfriend fell in love with the deep-fried, chocolate covered bacon at the fair. I nearly gagged. Thanks for sharing!!

    -Shannon

  14. Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul on January 22, 2013 at 7:50 am

    I’m so glad to hear you avoid soy bacon! This is very intriguing…and fascinating! JJ, you are always a great source of inspiration and experimentation! Love it!

  15. brenda on January 22, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Yummm…sounds delicious. Will try it as soon as I can get a real farm grown tomato…probably July.

  16. Cindy on January 23, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Yep, I sure do have some crazy bacon creations! Most of mine revolve around soy sauce/liquid smoke marinades. I’ve used it on tempeh, tofu and even flaked coconut, but never mushrooms. I’ll be keeping that in mind.

  17. [...] words: Shiitaki Vegan Bacon. Every veggie needs a little savory crunch every now and then and while I don’t usually get [...]

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