Saturday, May 22, 2010

L&CV: Shiitake Bacon

Well I will not give timelines next time.  This takes longer than I thought it would.  Let's start with the basics: equipment and food.

Equipment: Sharp knife, cutting board, bowl, cookie sheet, parchment paper (this is one of those things you need to stock in your house).  

Food:  Shiitake mushrooms, olive oil and sea salt (table salt will not give the same result).

Time: prep 10 minutes, cooking 55 minutes.  Total 1 hour 5 minutes.

Wash your shiitakes in COLD water and gently brush off any dirt.  I swirl them around in a colander and then gently pat them dry between two paper towels or hand towels.

Twist and pull off the stems.

After you have all your caps separated, slice them into even width strips.  The even strips just help to keep the cooking time consistent for all pieces.  (I currently toss the stems but I'm looking for ways to use them as something other than compost.  Ideas?)

Slip them all in a bowl to be oiled.  
Get your olive oil and sea salt.  I use these:  (so nothing fancy).  

Pour about two tablespoons olive oil for every four handfuls of sliced mushrooms.  Add a solid tablespoon of sea salt to this mix and toss it all around in the bowl to coat the slices well.  Shiitakes will soak the oil up, don't be tempted to add more just toss it together fast.  

Lay them all out in an even layer on the parchment paper on the cookie sheet.

Set your oven to a low heat.  You are slow roasting these pieces and its easy to burn them on a higher heat.  I usually start out around 250 degrees then get impatient and bump it up to 325 by the end.  This seems to work well so I'll lay out the time the way I actually do it instead of how you "should" do it.

Put it in the 250 oven for 15 minutes.  Every 15 minutes for 45 minutes take them out and stir them and then re-smooth them out on the pan.

After 45 minutes get impatient and turn the heat up to 325.  Check them and stir them every 5 minutes for 10 minutes.  :)  They should be done.  They will look a little wet and much browner.  They will finish drying and cooking on the plate.  You should make this once or twice with a little experimenting with the time to find the bacon texture and doneness you like best.  We like it crispy without any carbon flavor.  

After they cool they are perfect little strips of bacon flavored goodness.  We like them on baked potatoes, potato salad, green salad, vegan BLTs... whatever you can think of.  

I have no idea how long these keep, we never manage to find out.  Do not store in the fridge, after they cool put them in an air tight container and keep in a dark cabinet.  Any "meaty" mushroom works, I have yet to try them with portobellos but plan to try.  The chemical composition of these dense top mushrooms is amazing and the enzyme that condenses in the dry roasting process is what creates the bacon flavor.  I personally am a mushroom hater but tried these out of desperation for the flavor.  
I was wonderfully amazed.  

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