A surprisingly flavourful meatless garnish!
For years, I’ve enjoyed tasting excellent vegan cuisine at restaurants close to home and also when travelling. Now, I’ve decided it’s time to up my game in my own kitchen. This fun experiment produces crispy little morsels that certainly are evocative of the flavour and texture of pork bacon, but which I actually think taste even better. They’re really versatile; you can sprinkle them on soups, salads, pasta dishes and more. Look for unflavoured coconut chips in most health food stores; the pieces are typically about 3/4 inch (2 cm) in size or a bit larger. Be sure to use tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce if you want to make this garnish gluten-free. If you enjoy this recipe, you might also want to try making carrot ‘bacon’, which is super for vegan BLT sandwiches.
- 2 cups (500 mL) large, unsweetened coconut chips (not regular shredded coconut!)
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive, avocado or coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) tamari, coconut aminos or soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) maple syrup, honey or agave syrup
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) liquid smoke (find this at larger grocery stores)
- Pinch each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 325F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Put coconut chips in a large bowl. In a small bowl or glass measure, whisk together the oil, tamari, paprika, maple syrup, liquid smoke, kosher salt and pepper. Drizzle the oil and spice mixture over the coconut chips and toss to coat evenly.
- Transfer the coated chips to the prepared baking sheet then bake for 6 minutes. Remove tray from oven and stir, flipping the chips as much as possible. Rotate pan when you put it back in the oven.
- Bake for another 7 – 9 minutes, or until coconut is crispy (test a piece to see) and has turned a uniform dark golden brown. Pay close attention during the last few minutes of cooking, being careful not to let it burn.
- Let the coconut ‘bacon’ bits cool on the pan for 10 minutes (they will continue to crisp up as they cool). Stored, tightly covered, at room temperature for up to 1 week, in the fridge for 2 weeks or in the freezer for 2 months.
- Refrigerated or frozen coconut ‘bacon’ bits can be warmed up in the oven as needed – spread out in a single layer on a parchment-lined sheet and cook for 3 – 4 minutes at 350F.
Makes 2 cups (500 mL) of coconut ‘bacon’ bits.