The premium vegan bacun recipe from my published cookbooks is awesome. It’s beautifully marbled, which adds a bit of visual realism; but sometimes a quicker and easier preparation is appreciated. This shortcut recipe produces a vegan bacun with no marbling. Omitting the second marbling dough makes this recipe much easier and faster to prepare (your mouth won’t know the difference). The prepared sliced bacun fries up extra crisp and delicious in the skillet or oven. A food processor is requiring for mixing the dough and an electric pressure cooker (e.g., Instant Pot) is ideal for cooking preparation (conventional steaming is an alternate option).
- 5 oz/140 grams pressed and crumbled extra-firm tofu (not silken tofu)
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 tablespoons tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™
- 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 4 teaspoons dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons hickory liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon browning liquid (e.g., Gravy Master; Kitchen Bouquet)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
- 1¼ cup (175 grams) vital wheat gluten (scoop and level)
- ½ cup (120 ml) water
- 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper; and/or
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
Press and blot the tofu to remove as much water as possible; then crumble.
In a food processor fitted with a standard chopping blade or plastic dough blade, add all ingredients except for the gluten and water. Process as smooth as possible.
Add the gluten and water and process for 2 to 3 full minutes or until the mixture comes together into an elastic ball of dough. If the dough is not coming together after two and a half minutes, add 2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten and process until the dough comes together.
Shape the dough into a thick, flattened rectangle on a sheet of extra-wide, heavy-duty aluminum foil. Sprinkle with the black pepper and/or brown sugar. Wrap the dough in the foil to create a flat package. Fold then ends inwards to seal (like wrapping a holiday present). Rewrap in a second sheet of foil for reinforcement.
Add a few cups of water to the cooker and place the container on the trivet. Seal the lid, close the steam valve, and cook on Manual/High for 1 hour. Turn off the cooker and let the steam pressure naturally release for 30 minutes; do not open release valve to release pressure! Remove the container from the cooker; let cool in the mold with the foil in place and then chill to firm and enhance texture before slicing and frying.
Conventional Steamer with Basket
Add water to the cooking pot just below the steamer basket. Bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Set the wrapped container in the basket and put the lid in place. The heat can be reduced to medium to conserve energy as long as the water continues to rapidly boil. Steam for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Check every 30 minutes and add very hot water to the pot as needed to replace water lost from evaporation. Do not let the pot boil dry! After cooking, remove the container from the steamer; let cool in the mold with the foil in place and then chill to firm and enhance texture before slicing and frying.
Finishing the Bacun
Slice the bacun as thinly as possible for the crispest texture after frying (unless you prefer a thicker cut). When sliced thin, the bacun may tatter a bit, but this only adds to the authentic finished texture and appearance.
To oven fry the bacun, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup and arrange the slices in a single layer. Generously brush the slices on both sides with cooking oil. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to blot any excess oil.
To skillet fry the bacun, pour a generous layer of cooking oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat (to prevent burning, avoid frying it at a high temperature). Cook until lightly browned on both sides. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to blot any excess oil.
As the bacun cools, it will crisp up. Thicker slices will retain a chewy texture.
Tips from Chef Skye
It’s helpful to put a heavy object, such as a cast-iron skillet, on the foil package to compress it as it cools and keep the slab of bacun flat. This will also help to compress the bacun and improve its texture.
Shortcut Crispy Bacun - 100% Vegan of course!
Spam is a salty and savory processed luncheon meat made from ham which became popular in American and Polynesian culture during WWII and into the present day. My vegan, compassionate version is made from vital wheat gluten, tofu and select seasonings. Typically, Spam is sliced or diced and pan-fried until golden brown and crisp around the edges. Like Spam, Gentle Spam can be used as a luncheon meat or used in a variety of recipes in place of ham.
This recipe requires a total of 5 ounces/200 grams of pressed and thoroughly blotted extra-firm tofu (weighed after pressing). Typically, ½ block of commercial extra-firm tofu will yield 5 ounces/200 grams after pressing and blotting.
The recipe also requires a food processor; a pressure cooker (e.g., Instant Pot) or conventional steamer; and a square or rectangular silicone or metal mold which will hold at least 2 cups of liquid (molds used for preparing vegan cheese are ideal). Do not use plastic or glass!
A scant amount (⅛ teaspoon) of red food color is used to simulate the nitrate-pink color of the product. Regrettably, natural red pigments won’t work. If you’d rather not use artificial red food color (FD&C red, which is derived from petroleum, not animals), simply omit, although the finished product will be brown in color. You can add 1 teaspoon of paprika for color, although this will produce an orange hue.
• 1 cup (240 ml) water
• 3 oz/85 grams pressed and crumbled extra-firm tofu (not silken tofu)
• 4 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
• 4 teaspoons organic sugar
• 1 tablespoon onion powder
• 1½ teaspoon garlic powder
• 1¼ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
• ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
• 2 tablespoons refined coconut oil, melted (not virgin oil)
• 1 tablespoon tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™
• 2 teaspoons hickory liquid smoke (or less if sensitive to smoke flavor)
• Optional for pink color: ⅛ teaspoon red food color (FD&C)
• 1 cup (140 grams) vital wheat gluten (scooped and leveled)
• 2 oz/60 grams pressed and finely crumbled extra-firm tofu (not silken tofu)
• ¼ teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
• ¼ teaspoon onion powder
In a small bowl, toss the marbling tofu bits with the salt and onion powder. Set aside.
In a food processor, add ½ of the water, the 3 ounces of crumbled tofu, and the remaining processor ingredients except for the gluten. Process until liquefied.
Add the gluten and the remaining water and process for 1 full minute or until the dough comes together. Add the marbling tofu bits and pulse a few times until dispersed through the dough.
Pack evenly into the silicone or metal mold and then wrap securely with foil.
Pressure Cooker: Add 2 to 3 cups of water to the pressure cooker and put the trivet in place. Cook on manual high for 1 hour. Turn off the cooker and let the steam pressure naturally release for 30 minutes – do not open release valve to release pressure! After cooking, remove the container from the cooker; let cool in the mold with the foil in place and then chill to firm and enhance texture before slicing and frying.
Conventional Steamer with Basket: Steam the container over boiling water on high heat with the lid in place for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Check occasionally to replace water lost to evaporation with very hot water. Do not let boil dry! After cooking, remove the container from the steamer; let cool in the mold with the foil in place and then chill to firm and enhance texture before slicing and frying.
Prepared Gentle Spam ready for pan-frying in a non-stick oiled skillet.
A Hawaiian favorite, vegan- style. Gentle Spam Musubi consists of pan-grilled Gentle Spam over sticky rice, wrapped in nori seaweed and topped with crispy garlic chili sauce and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
Hawaiian Spam Loco Moco is an island breakfast favorite. My compassionate version consists of pan-grilled Gentle Spam over sticky rice with brown vegan gravy and chopped scallions, and topped with a sunnyside-up “egg” (from my new digital cookbook What’s Cookin’ Too)
I’m pleased to present my signature recipe and technique for creating plant-based jumbo franks which remarkably resemble a classic hot dog texture, color and flavor. Ballparks are high in plant-based protein, low in fat, and with no starch fillers, gels or gums. A food processor is required for this recipe in order to produce the desired texture. Yields 8 jumbo franks.
The new updated recipe can now be found in my new cookbook, Cooking with the Gentle Chef
Ballparks - Vegan Franks
Crumbly Mexican Soy Chorizo with Vegan Eggz Scramble
The recipe can now be found in my new cookbook, What’s Cookin’ Too
Crumbly Mexican Soy Chorizo
Tofu bacun is so easy to prepare and yields excellent results. It just requires a little time for pressing the tofu (8 to 12 hours), marinating the tofu with the seasoning liquid (a minimum of 12 hours), and low-oven baking or drying in a food dehydrator (about 2 hours). For this recipe I recommend using a tofu press, such as the TofuXpress®, that will hold the shape of the tofu while compressing the texture and removing the water prior to marinating. This recipe yields about 8 oz./½ lb. of bacun.
• 1 block (about 14 oz before pressing) extra-firm tofu
• high-temp cooking oil for frying
• ⅔ cup water
• ⅓ cup tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™
• ¼ cup dark brown sugar or real maple syrup
• 1 T vegan Worcestershire Sauce
• 1 T liquid hickory smoke
Press the tofu to remove as much water as possible. Blot the surface dry and then cut ⅛-inch thick slices lengthwise.
Combine the marinade ingredients and stir until the sugar dissolves. If you prefer a less salty bacun, opt for low-sodium tamari or soy sauce. Pour a small amount of the marinade into a small food storage container and begin layering the tofu strips into the container, overlapping the slices as you layer. Handle the slices carefully as they will be rather delicate.
Pour the remaining marinade over the slices and seal the container. There should be sufficient marinade to just about cover the slices completely. Seal the container and refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours and up to 48 hours, with 24 hours being ideal.
Preheat the oven to 225°F/110°C. Place a non-stick baker’s cooling rack on a baking sheet. If you don’t have a cooling rack, line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the slices in a single layer on the rack. Again, handle the slices carefully as they will be rather delicate. Place the sheet on the middle oven rack and low-bake for 2 hours.
Alternately, a food dehydrator can be used at the highest setting. Dry for 2 hours or until the slices are dry to the touch but not completely dehydrated.
Place the slices in a food storage container and refrigerate until ready to finish and serve.
Finishing the Bacun
Tofu bacun benefits from frying in oil to create the crispy texture. Pour enough high-temp cooking into a skillet to cover the bottom completely and place over medium-high heat. Add the strips to the skillet without overcrowding and fry until nicely browned, turning occasionally. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Try laying the bacun on the towel with an undulation to mimic a cooked bacon appearance. If desired, season with some coarse ground black pepper while still hot. The bacun will crisp further as it cools and will hold the undulated shape.
Serve immediately or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator until ready to use in recipes. Pre-fried bacun can be reheated in a low oven.
Sweet and Smoky Tofu Bacun
This recipe yields 1 cup of deliciously sweet, salty and smoky vegan bacon bits, which are ideal for topping salads or eggless egg recipes, such as omelettes, scrambles or vegan deviled “eggs”. However, these crispy bits are not recommended for prolonged cooking in moist dishes such as casseroles or quiches, as the coconut will rehydrate and produce an undesirable texture.
• 1 cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes (I recommend Bob’s Red Mill™ brand)
• 2 T tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos™
• 1 T dark brown sugar or real maple syrup
• 2 tsp liquid smoke
• 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (preferably from my recipe which can be found in The Gentle Chef Cookbook)
In a bowl, whisk together the seasoning ingredients until the sugar is dissolved. Add the coconut flakes and toss well to evenly distribute the seasoning. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of several hours, and better overnight, to rehydrate the coconut flakes and absorb the flavors.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and distribute the seasoned coconut flakes on the parchment paper in a single layer. For a peppery bacun flavor, season with fine ground black pepper. Place the baking sheet in the oven on a middle rack and set a timer for 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and stir the flakes, again redistributing them in a single layer. This process will need to be repeated every 5 minutes for a total of about 15 minutes for slightly chewy bacun bits, or 20 minutes for crispy bacun bits.
Remove from the oven and let cool. Store in a zip-lock bag or a suitable covered container in the refrigerator until ready to use