When I tell people I’m vegetarian, their response is often ‘but… how do you live without bacon?’
When I was a kid, I would have agreed that it’s hard to live without the stuff (I guess I didn’t have much else to worry about at that age!) – in fact, bacon was the cause of the mini meat relapse that occurred when I was about 9 or 10. Sausages may also have been involved… it was a moment of weakness.
These days however, having been veggie for about 17 years (am I really that old?), I don’t find myself craving meat. Not even slightly – I can’t even remember what it tastes like, if I’m honest. I see someone eating a steak, and it does absolutely nothing for me – I never judge other people for eating meat, but I definitely don’t envy them either.
All that said… if ‘real’ bacon tastes as good as this tofu bacon tastes, I can kind of see where people are coming from.
This tofu bacon is smoky, sticky, a little bit spicy, a little bit sweet… Even if you don’t approve of the term ‘tofu bacon’, please just try this anyway. Just think of it as crispy marinated tofu, and you’ll be fine. It’s crazy good.
And it’s also really, really easy to make.
The marinade is nice and simple, but has so, so, so much flavour. It was genuinely hard to resist slurping it all straight out of the dish. Soy sauce gives a salty savouriness, maple syrup gives a bit of sweetness, chipotle sauce and smoked paprika make it spicy and smoky. It’s great.
In fact, it’s even better after it’s spent a while in a frying pan with the tofu – the sugars caramelise and get lovely and sticky, and the tofu crisps up nicely. Don’t rush it – leave it in the pan for a good while until it’s crisped up. Nobody likes undercooked bacon (apparently).
Of course, you can serve your tofu bacon however you fancy – pop it on a plate alongside a vegetarian full English breakfast, with eggs and toast, in a simple bacon butty… or, my favourite, a classic BLT.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how to make a BLT (it’s kind of in the name), but just in case you’ve forgotten, it’s very simple: (tofu) Bacon. Lettuce. Tomato.
(and maybe a little smear of mustard or mayo if you’re so inclined)
- 200 g firm tofu (enough for 4 thin slices)
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp chipotle sauce (or similar smoky hot sauce)
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- Black pepper
- 1 tbsp oil
- 4 slices bread
- 1 tsp mustard (optional)
- leaves A few lettuce
- 1 large tomato, sliced
Cut the tofu into 4 thin slices. Press the tofu - if you don't have a tofu press, just lay out the slices inside a clean tea towel, and top with something heavy (I usually use a few large saucepans or cookbooks). Leave for at least a few minutes - a bit longer if you have time.
In a suitably sized baking dish, combine the maple syrup, soy sauce, chipotle sauce, smoked paprika, and plenty of black pepper. Mix well. When the tofu has been pressed, transfer it to the baking dish, and make sure it's well coated in the marinade. Leave to marinate for a few minutes (again, longer is better if you have more time).
Heat the oil in a frying pan, and add the marinated tofu. Pour over any leftover marinade. Cook over a medium heat for around 5 minutes each side, or until the tofu is firm and crispy.
If desired, serve in a tofu bacon BLT sandwich, with mustard, lettuce and tomato.
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose. Information above is for one tofu bacon BLT.