Happy Canada Day to all of my fellow Canadians all around the world!
I thought we should have something Canadian today, and what’s more Canadian than bacon? Maple bacon! You know, the real maple kind…
So, coconut bacon. Does it taste like bacon bacon? To be honest, I have no idea. I haven’t had the real thing in over 2 decades, so bacon bacon is a foggy memory at best. But I can assure you that coconut bacon is good. Really, really good.
I used to be really into fake meat products and there was a soy Canadian bacon that I was particularly fond of. When I started my first degree in nutrition I realized how processed those fake meat products really are and have more or less eschewed them ever since. I do still indulge in them from time to time (hello, veggie pizza pepperoni), but only as an occasional treat.
A friend asked me the other day how I define real food, and after some consideration my answer is that real food is either a whole food or food that is or that can be made by human hands. I could make my own tofu, I could make my own seitan, but making my own soy bacon would be tricky. Coconut bacon, then, is a game changer.
Since coconut is naturally fatty it crisps up nicely in the oven. The smoky flavour comes from a mix of liquid smoke and smoked paprika, which balances the saltiness of liquid aminos (or soy sauce) and the sweetness of good quality maple syrup.
Best of all, making your own coconut bacon is so dang easy. It’s a matter of mixing just five ingredients together, and then baking those ingredients in the oven. Be warned that coconut bacon is a bit of an attention seeker, so you’ll need to be available to stir the tray every five minutes and to watch it very carefully towards the end. Your efforts will be worth it though, as you’ll end up with a big old tray of salty, smoky bacon. The real maple kind, eh?
I’ll be back later this week for a recipe that uses some of this coconut bacon. Yum!
So what’s the deal with liquid smoke? Chips or sawdust from hardwoods such as hickory or mesquite are burned at high temperatures, and particles of the smoke are collected in condensers. The resulting liquid is concentrated down for a stronger smoky flavour. Not all liquid smoke is created equal, so read your labels! It shouldn’t contain anything other than natural smoke and water, so be wary of those that add additional flavour, colour, or other ingredients.
- 3 cups large coconut flakes
- 2 Tbsp liquid aminos (I use Bragg's) or soy sauce
- 1 - 1.5 Tbsp good quality maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp liquid smoke
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- Start by preheating your oven to 325°F / 160°C. Line one large or two standard baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the liquid aminos, maple syrup, liquid smoke, and smoked paprika.
- Place the coconut flakes into a large bowl and drizzle the liquid mixture over the top. Stir for about one minute to ensure the coconut is well coated and the liquid is evenly distributed.
- Spread the coconut onto the prepared baking sheet and place in the oven.
- Set a timer for 5 minutes. Stir the coconut and redistribute on the tray (you can lift the edges of the parchment to tip all of the coconut towards the centre, then stir, then smooth back out). Repeat two more times, so you're stirring at the 10 and 15 minute marks.
- At this point you'll want to start checking the coconut every 1-2 minutes as it can go from browned to burnt very quickly.
- The coconut should be dark brown in colour but not burnt.
- Remove it from the oven and let the coconut bacon cool on the tray. It will become crispy as it cools.
- Store in an airtight container, and use to add bacony deliciousness to all kinds of dishes. Coconut bacon not kept in an airtight container will become soft and will need to be carefully re-crisped in the oven.