Sometimes a vegetarian gets a craving for bacon. So she goes to the store (or the alternative New York diner that caters to vegetarians …. Curly’s on 14th St., or Dizzy’s in Park Slope come to mind) and gets some tempeh bacon, or some other kind of soy product that’s supposed to simulate pork. And no matter how long you fry it, it ends up just being this limp strip of salty soy, that may taste ok, but doesn’t satisfy any kind fo craving.
A few weeks ago, my friend took me to Sun in Bloom, which is a fantastic vegan cafe here in Park Slope, where I wish I could eat three meals a day! It’s that good! And I ordered an avocado sandwich, and it came with shiitake bacon. Now, I’ve worked in a vegan restaurant for 5 years and I do a lot of recipe searching, but this delicious morsel completely slipped by me.
Well, I googled the recipe. It was developed by chef Elliot Prag at the Natural Gourmet cooking school, and it turns out to be the easiest thing to make. So I ran to the co-op, bought a huge bag of shiitake mushrooms and made bacon!! I swear it comes closer to the real thing than you can possibly imagine! It’s crispy, it’s fatty, it’s salty! The perfect food!
A huge bag ends up making not very much. V. and I planned on saving some for sandwiches and salad, but then we picked a little off the sheet pan to taste. And then it was all gone. Oops!
shiitake mushroom caps (you can’t buy too many)
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Slice, or chop the mushroom caps into pieces (not too tiny, because they shrink a lot). In a bowl, toss with olive oil (the mushrooms soak up the oil, so give it a good drizzle, without drenching them). Spread out evenly on a sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with sea salt.
Bake for about 1 hour, tossing with a spatula, every 15 minutes or so.
When the mushrooms are crispy, remove from the oven and cool.
They will keep in an airtight container for a few days, if you have that kind of self-control.