Making dishes for other people isn’t quite like making them for yourself. When you make something for yourself, you just make it however you like it. No questions asked. But, when you make up a little something for others, you normally consider their tastes, and dietary needs. Even more so when you’re making food for a large group. This can be as simple as leaving nuts out of brownies so people with nut allergies can enjoy them freely, or not making your traditional five-alarm chili that would blast the socks off anyone under six, but making something more akin to a three-alarm version, so more people can eat some without jumping up and down, fanning their mouths, and looking around desperately for anything liquid. And, in the case of something we made for a church coffee hour, a bac’n-bit-like product that doesn’t contain any pork, yet still tastes great, was needed.
Will it fool hard-core bacon eaters? Not into thinking it’s bacon, but we think they’ll still like it. Plus, you can use these little bits any place you’d use real bacon bits, and you can feel comfortable knowing all the ingredients, knowing that they’re not filled with saturated fats and nitrates, and knowing that you saved some money by making these Baco-conuts, instead of buying mass-produced Bac’n bits. Just so you know, this recipe comes from Bacon-ish, by Leinana Two Moons; when we saw it, we were intrigued, and just knew we had to try it.
Tamari sauce is basically real soy sauce. It’s made by fermenting soybeans, just the way soy sauce has been made for hundreds of years. It is not the same as something such as La Choy brand soy sauce, which is salted water with corn syrup and caramel color. We use San-J brand tamari sauce and just love it, but you might prefer another brand. We suggest that you head over to your local ethnic market and look for real tamari sauce; you’ll never want the fake soy sauce again. Large-flake unsweetened coconut: we found it in the bulk bins at a local supermarket and bought about 6 ounces, which was more than enough. Oh, for maple syrup, remember that the grades (Grade A, Grade B, etc.) only refer to the color, not the taste. In general, the higher grades are lighter in color and flavor, so we go with grade B maple syrup. One-hundred percent real, of course.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment for easy cleanup. If you don’t use baking parchment, give it a try sometime; you’ll wonder how you did without all these years.
Mix sauce. In a medium bowl, stir together all the ingredients except the coconut. You just want to make sure that the maple syrup dissolves into the other liquids, which should take a few seconds.
Toss in coconut. Add the coconut and toss to coat. Keep tossing and stirring until all the coconut is covered in sauce, then transfer to the baking sheet and spread into an even layer.
Bake. Slide into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and stir, and spread back into an even layer. Back into the oven for 8 minutes more, or until the coconut around the edges is deep brown.
Cool. Let cool completely on the baking sheet. The Baco-conuts will crisp up a bit more as they cool.
Pack. Place the bits in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Use wherever you’d use bacon bits.
Let’s face it. There’s no way to make coconut taste just like bacon. But, you can make it taste great by following this recipe. It’s super simple, and results in some crispy, salty, smoky bits that are just delicious. So delicious that’ll you’ll probably snack on way more than you should while they’re cooling. To our way of thinking, that means these are a solid four stars — we take one star off because they still, not surprisingly, have a slightly distracting coconut taste. Tomorrow we’ll show you what we made using these little bits of tastiness.