Let me preface this post with a story about myself. When I first moved into my flat in Brighton, England, I went through a BLT phase. Every single time one of my flatmates came into our kitchen, I was eating a BLT. I’m pretty sure I was ‘That weird American girl who lives in our flat that only eats BLTs with that fake bacon stuff”. Okay, so when I like foods I tend to eat them for every meal until I get sick of them. Sue me. And then a year later I eat them again until I get sick of them again, and so on. There are several foods that are on this rotation: Vegan Mac-n-cheese, nachos with some sort of vegan cheese, lasagna with cashew ricotta, a conglomeration including tofu, kale and a smattering of other veggies I have…and vegan BLTs.
…I am back in my BLT phase.
In mid/early February my friend Lisa and I went to Montreal, where I was acquainted with the coconut bacon BLT from Aux Vivres. Let me be blunt, it was like an orgasm in my mouth. Who would’ve thought, coconut as a bacon substitute?! Apparently lots of people after a quick Google, but alas. I set to the kitchen and created my own version using smoked salt instead of liquid smoke like all the others. It may be an irrational fear, but as I can only find liquid smoke in the condiment section of my local Big Name grocery store, I’m afraid it’s just filled with fake smoke flavors and chemicals. Maybe next time I’ll go in search of a more natural version of the smoked stuff, but for now smoked salt works for me. Don’t have smoked salt or prefer the liquid stuff? Your recipe is here. The rest of you…onwards!
- 1 1/2 cups large-flaked unsweetened dried coconut
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce (tamari is best if you have it)
- 2 Tbsp. water
- 1 Tbsp. maple syrup, agave, or your syrupy sweet thing of preference
- 1 tsp. smoked salt
- Preheat your oven to 300F.
- In a small sauce pan, combine the soy sauce, water, maple syrup and smoked salt.
- Stir over medium heat until the salt has melted and the mixture is uniform.
- Take off the heat and set aside.
- Sprinkle your coconut in an even layer on a large baking tray.
- Drizzle the soy sauce mixture over the coconut, toss to coat the coconut and re-spread the coated coconut in a flat, even layer. The only reason you do it this way around is if you put the coconut in with the mixture it gets soggier faster, but if it gets a little soggy, don't worry, it'll be fine.
- Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. After 15 minutes keep a good eye on it. The first time I did about 22 minutes and it burnt to a crisp, but 18 minutes was about perfect for my second batch. It will get crunchier as it cools down, so don't worry if it's still a little flimsy when you first take it out. You just don't want it to still be soaking wet and still dripping in it's own liquid (that's what she said).
- Once the coconut flakes around the edges get browned and crispy is a good sign that it's ready. The middle will firm up as it cools.
Here’s a closeup of the final product:
While we’re at it, let me teach you the trick to making store bought tortillas awesome. Tortilla + Fire = NOM. I turn one of the burners of my gas stove on high and put the tortilla directly on it (you know, where the pan would go). If you have an electric stove, you’ll just have to resort to lighting them on fire. J/K! Don’t play with fire kids!
Of course, if you’re feeling energetic, you could also make your own tortillas! It’s really not that hard either!
Okay, now that that’s sorted…Eat BLTs until your heart is content! I like mine with sprouts and a good smattering of Vegenaise. It would also be a wonderful salad topping (bacon bits anyone?). If I feel like loading on more things, I like to fry/bake up a Boca Chick’n patty for a vegan “chicken” BLT, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…
How do you like your coconut?