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Let me make this clear: for many situations, there is no alternative to bacon.

Bacon comes from the bellies of happy, fat pigs. It is salty and smoky and nothing, not turkey bacon, not smoked tofu shaped and pressed to look like bacon, and especially not mushrooms, can ever take its place.

But you know what? Sometimes I get a little curious. I mean, come on. If I told you that if you take mushrooms and soak them in a little bit of soy sauce and bake them, they taste vaguely like bacon, would you believe me?

Well, you should. And even though these won’t be quite as good in, say, a BLT, and they wouldn’t hold up to being made into bacon jam, they would be fantastic crumbled on top of a salad. Or you can do what I did and just eat slices of them from the bowl whenever you happen to pass by. And you know what? They taste genuinely delicious and don’t have any of the guilt association that eating an entire plateful of bacon would have. It’s kind of like the kale chip phenomenon: they’re not potato chips, but close enough, and waaaaay better for you. That’s worth trying.

Shiitake “Bacon”

From The Delicious Life.

Ingredients
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms or similar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil

Directions

Heat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Stem the mushrooms (saving the stems for stock) and slice them into 1/4 inch slices. Toss the mushrooms with the soy sauce and olive oil.

Spread the mushrooms out in one layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 10-20 minutes until it reaches the crisp/chewy balance that you enjoy.

Notes

I like ’em super crispy and super salty. If you would like a milder bacon substitute, cut the soy in half and the keep the baking time short.

You can also do these in a pan over the stovetop! I just… prefer oven baked bacon, so I guess I thought I’d prefer oven baked fake bacon? Anyway, just crisp them up in a skillet for about 10 minutes if you prefer stovetop action.

Music to cook by: Janglin [Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros // Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros]

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