recipe test: shiitake bacon

Recently, I made a soup that called for small chunks of ham. Instead of ham, I decided to try making shiitake bacon to top it. I’d had it at restaurants, and it’s incredibly good: smoky, crispy, caramelized, and salty, it makes an effective and delicious vegan vehicle for umami.  It’s also truly simple and quick to make!

No, it does not taste exactly like bacon, but it can replicate some of the key things that bacon brings to a dish: the crispy meaty texture, the smokiness, the saltiness, and the umami-ness. I chose to use it to replace the small amount of ham because it was comparable in size and texture; a larger ham hock, for example, would also give you some gelatin from the bones, so this would not be a good replacement for a larger, meatier meat.

This was was a great complement for my tangy, creamy soup (I will post that recipe soon!), and would be great on a salad, on sandwiches, mixed with roasted veggies like brussel sprouts, or in an omelette/scramble-type dish. And probably in a lot of other things too! It’s so yummy! 

Shiitake bacon (from Kathy Patalsky’s blog) | 12 min | Makes about a cup of bacon-y strips

  • 5-6 medium shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 tsp soy sauce
  • 1-2 tsp oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1-2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  1. Add the soy sauce and 1/4 tsp paprika to the sliced mushrooms a few minutes before and allow those flavors to marinate into the mushroom. Otherwise, just toss everything in the pan and that is fine too.
  2. Warm a skillet over high heat and add the oil.
  3. Once oil is hot, add marinated mushrooms to the pan and spread out in a thin layer. Cook 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add in the maple syrup, black pepper, and the other 1/4 tsp of paprika and stir.
  5. Let the mushrooms sizzle in the pan for as long as they need to absorb all the liquid and spices and start to caramelize and get a little crispy. Finish with a splash of the vinegar to de-glaze the pan a bit. Let the mushrooms continue to cook until as crispy as you like. Let the mushrooms rest in the pan for a few minutes before using in recipes or transferring to serving bowl.

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