Even when I ate meat as a child, I wasn’t a bacon fanatic, preferring breakfast sausage while my brothers inhaled the salty, crunchy bacon. I never really understood the mass appeal of bacon, but ever since the deliciousness I encountered at ASAN’s 2018 annual Graze, I’ve been obsessing over eggplant bacon. I’ve been experimenting and think I’ve almost recreated it! I’ll admit this bacon isn’t as good as what I tried at the food festival–I still have to perfect the candy crunch–but I thought these were still good enough to share, so here ya go!
- 1 medium-sized eggplant
- 1 1/2 tbs tamari (substitute: 1 tbs soy sauce)
- 1 tbs vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 tbs pure maple syrup
- 2 tsp liquid smoke
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tbs canola oil
- Cut both ends and peel the skin of your eggplant.
- Using a sharp knife, cut your eggplant in half lengthwise and then cut each half into thin slices (that you then cut into long strips). The idea is for the final cuts to end up in the general shape and thickness of regular sliced bacon. Remove the seeds, if you want (see my tip below).
- In a large, flat glass tray, whisk together the next 6 ingredients and 1 tbs of the oil to make your marinade.
- Soak the eggplant slices in the tray for several hours or overnight, mixing midway if you remember to ensure all of the slices get some soaking time. (With enough time you can really skip this step because the eggplant will wilt and they all end up soaking).
- Heat a pan over a medium-high flame, then add enough oil to lightly coat the bottom. Add your eggplant, which should sizzle slightly.
- I like a nice caramelized crunch in my bacon, so I cook until it looks burnt, turning every now and then, but about 3 minutes each side should cook it through.
Tip 1: Try to remove the seeds by cutting out in somewhat of a v-shape out of each slice. My eggplant for this attempt was already very small, so I didn’t want to lose more meat than I could manage, so you’ll notice I kept some seeds in. Also, (more truthfully) I was lazy. Ideally, though, the eggplant slices would be seedless.
Tip 2: I’ll be updating with more tips as I continue to work on it. What am I experimenting with now? Adding brown sugar for crispier, candier bacon. If you’ve experimented and want to share a tip, please do in the comments!