I posted about the Apple Walnut Sourdough bread I made the other day so I thought I'd post about the delicious sandwich I made for dinner after the loaf came out of the oven.
My carnivorous roommates frequently cook bacon in our house, for breakfast or dinner, and although it's been many many years now since I've eaten bacon, the smell always makes me crave that certain salty flavor that I've never found replicated in vegetarian fare. I've had the kind of vegetarian fake bacon that you can get at the store, usually by Morningstar or one of those brands, but they always have a strange plasticy texture and smell that reminds me of dog treats. Not appetizing. However, I once went to a vegan brunch my current roommate Liz's former apartment for which she made "vegan bacon" from tempeh. It was really delicious. It was crispy and salty and a little bit smoky, and while it was definitely NOT bacon, I loved it and immediately asked for the recipe. Well, that was nearly a year ago now and I've forgotten whatever it was Liz told me, but while the Apple Walnut Sourdough was rising and baking and the sweet nutty aroma filled the house, I began to think about how well apples, cheese, and bacon go together. Thinking back to Liz's brunch, I began to search for recipes that might replicate that smoky salty flavor I've long missed.
I came across several variations on what seemed to be the core ingredients: soy sauce and liquid smoke. Several recipes added nutritional yeast and a few threw in some heat by means of chili powder or hot sauce. I decided to start simple and complicate things from there. I sliced a package of Bridge Tofu (the best available around here, in my opinion) into inch wide, quarter inch thick slices, that I spread out on paper towels to dry off. I heated some vegetable oil up in my cast iron skillet. I used enough to coat the bottom, but not so much that it would cover the tofu. You want to brown it, not deep fry it. Once the oil was hot I laid the tofu strips in, cooked until brown and crispy on one side, then flipped and did the same for the other.
Once the oil has cooked off and the tofu is crispy, pour a mixture of soy sauce and liquid smoke over it while it's in the pan. Proportions differ, so do it to taste. I mixed 2T soy sauce, 1T liquid smoke, and 1/4c water. The water turned out to be a bad idea, but I had trouble seeing how 3T of liquid would evenly coat all of the tofu in the pan. The soy sauce/liquid smoke mixture should be absorbed into the tofu while the water cooks off (as I learned, if you use too much water, the tofu gets a little spongy and wet on the inside, which definitely isn't a bacon texture). Once the liquid is gone, pull the tofu out of the pan and voila!
For the sandwich, I sliced up some of the Apple Walnut bread, some Vermont cheddar, and put it all together with the tofu "bacon". I grilled it a little to brown the bread (the heat of the tofu mostly melted the cheese before I even put the sandwich in the skillet). I ended up adding mustard after I'd grilled it, which was tasty. I had also roasted some beets and cauliflower with garlic (all from the farm share!) while the oven was hot from the bread. Put it all together and my roommate and I had a really great dinner!