Bacon is one of the most sought after foods in the entire world. Although not the healthiest food you could be eating, it certainly is one of the most delicious. People all over the world and all over the Internet have fetishized bacon almost to the point of exhaustion. I mean honestly if I hear one more person scream BACON at me in the comment section, or watch one more poor innocent meal get wrapped in bacon and deep-fried, I am going to burn my laptop and disconnect—just kidding, I wouldn’t last 15 mins without Snapchat or Pinterest. But alas, this trend does not seem to be going away, and so I must embrace it the best way I know how—Veganizing it.
Growing up, I didn’t eat much bacon as my mother was a Seventh Day Adventist vegetarian and the Bible described it as an unclean food. But being a child of divorced parents, my dad would serve it with breakfast, and on a handful of occasions I tried it—but it never made it into my regular eating patterns. Growing up in the country by a vegetarian meant that we were often exposed to farm animals, and so eating meat just didn’t appeal to me. I think much of this had to do with this animal exposure but also my mothers strict views on diet and eating, She described pork, bacon, ham to us as animals, instead of food; so it wasn’t just a plate of bacon—it was a plate of dead pig. When it came to food, and slaughter, my mother was always very honest about where it came from, and made sure that we were always thankful. To many people this may seem like an odd way of parenting, but in hindsight, this type of honest parenting is what made me compassionate towards animals, seeing them as equals with intelligence, and drove me to eventually become a vegan in my adult life.
For Vegans, the bacon alternatives are limited, and fail to live up to the standards that bacon lovers have come to expect. And let’s face it, most of us did not become vegan because we didn’t love the taste and smell of bacon, we became vegan because pigs are individuals that deserve love off the plate as well. Neuroscientists have studied and found that pigs share a number of cognitive capacities with other highly intelligent species such as dogs, chimpanzees, elephants, dolphins, and even humans. They are often compared to having the intelligence similar to that of a 3-year-old human child. So if you wouldn’t eat your dog or your toddler, you shouldn’t be eating a cute fuzzy piggy.
As a society we have desensitized ourselves to what meat is and where it came from. And since we are a culture that very much identifies with food, and bacon as it’s own food group—I made it my mission to be able to look every “I would be vegan – but bacon” bacon-loving wannabe vegan in the eye with a piece of bacon and say, “Now you too can become vegan…” What is this magical bacon alternative I speak of? Making vegan bacon out of rice paper and a bacon marinade. Yup, rice paper, that stuff vegan up until now have been using to make salad wraps with. Blech.
This bacon gets it’s favor from a marinade made with Tamari, olive oil, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, liquid smoke, and maple syrup. These ingredients together provide you with a smoky, salty and slightly sweet flavor very similar to bacon. This recipes does take a round or two of practice as the rice paper can be hard to work with, but trust me when I say; it is the BEST alternative to bacon I have tried yet! I didn’t come up with this concept, but here is my version.
Try it wrapped around king oyster mushrooms, as an alternative to bacon wrapped scallops, or wrap it around a veggie dog and grill it, Bacon wrapped dates as a chic, sweet and salty hor d’oeuvres anyone? Anything you could normally wrap bacon around you can definitely wrap this vegan bacon around, you could even have bacon on your veggie burgers, in sandwiches or crumbled on top of your salad. Don’t be afraid to get creative. While it is impossible to truly duplicate the flavor of actual bacon I think this is as close as you’re gunna get!
What are you waiting for? Get out that bowl, whisk, and rice paper and get cooking!
- 8-10 pieces rice paper
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 3 Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce if you don't have tamari)
- ½ Tbsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp liquid smoke (you can also sub 1 Tbsp bbq sauce if you do not have access to liquid smoke)
- ½ Tbsp maple syrup
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp of Hungarian paprika
- Cut rice paper into thick strips,by laying two sheets on top of one another. Use a large, very sharp knife to cut the sheets into strips by placing the blade onto the paper and pressing firmly. The rice paper will crack a bit- but using a very sharp knife should eliminate major breakage.
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Prepare 2 baking sheets with sheets of parchment paper.
- In a bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except the rice paper. This will become your marinade.
- Prepare a second wide bowl filled partway with water.
- Take two strips with similar length and shape and lay them side by side. Using a pastry brush, brush each sheet with water and stack them one on top of the other. They should start to stick together.
- Brush water along the side facing you and, holding them together, flip the paper over and brush that side with water.
- Lay on a piece of parchment or a cutting board and do this with as many pieces as you can until you run out of space.
- Once you've run our of space or rice paper- whichever comes first- using dry pastry brush (do not using the one you used for water- it will dilute the marinade) and brush the marinade onto one side of the now fused rice paper strip, and lay marinade side down onto the baking pan.
- Now brush the marinade onto the strip facing you,coat generously. Both side should now have marinade on them.
- Repeat technique with remaining rice paper strips until the baking sheet is filled, whisking the marinade every so often to prevent separation.
- Bake for about 7 to 8 minutes, until crisp.
- The strips burn easily, so keep an eye on the baking sheet and remove from sheet right away.
- You can store leftover rice paper bacon in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the fridge for a few weeks.
1. Cut the recipe paper sheets into strips as instructed above.
2. Place sheets into the bowl of water until soft, remove from water and carefully lay one on top of each other on a cutting board. Removing excess water with fingers and allowing to dry for 2 minutes or until they have fused together.
3. Dip this strip directly into the marinade, and remove excess with fingers, and place on the baking sheet.
4. Bake as directed above.