I'm pretty excited this week to introduce you to a wonderful new ingredient you may not have heard of before = liquid smoke. Whilst it might seem like one of those things that ends up gathering cobwebs at the back of your cupboard, I guarantee once you start using it you’ll fall in love with the incredible things it can do. If you’re transitioning to a more plant-based diet (or are an avid vege-lover already), liquid smoke will be your new best friend for creating delicious smokey BBQ type flavours, once reserved only for things like bacon and smoked salmon. Once i started experimenting with it, I quickly realised that the main thing I had enjoyed about those foods was actually the sweet, salty, smokiness, rather than the meat itself!
So here you go. Smokey Tempeh “Bacon” BLATs. Salty, sweet, smokey, chewy, and utterly delicious. All the things you love about bacon, without the parts you aren’t so keen on (animal cruelty, chemicals and additives, environmental degradation, global warming...). Did you know incidentally that pigs are as intelligent as three year old children? That fact shocks me even more, now that Mila is 19 months and is so crazily smart - she understands everything we say to her (go put on your shoes, where’s your bib, do up your seat belt), and has started saying so many words now. But back to our piggies, they really are the most incredible and smart animals, despite their less than glamorous appearance. They love to play games, kick balls, play fetch, and cuddle if you let them too - just like dogs (and three year old children!).
If that’s not enough to turn you off, the World Health Organisation recently classified bacon, along with other processed meats, as a Group 1 carcinogen. The same group as tobacco and asbestos, i.e. there is convincing evidence that they cause cancer. In particular, eating processed meats such as bacon, salami, chorizo, ham, beef jerky, biltong and the like, have been shown to cause colorectal cancer, as well strong associations with stomach, pancreatic and prostate cancer. Not what we want at all.
Lovely Liquid Smoke
Luckily, we have liquid smoke. In this delicious recipe, we’re recreating a classic BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado, tomato) into a gorgeous bite of plant-based deliciousness. Tempeh is one of my favourite foods to recommend people consume as part of a plant-based whole foods lifestyle, as it’s a great source of protein, is fermented (so easily digested and great for populating your gut with good bacteria), is easy and quick to cook (perfect for mid-week meals), and has a similar texture to meat, so many find it the perfect substitute to turn their favourite traditional recipes into healthier plant-based versions. I’ve spoken more about tempeh before here, so today let's focus on that liquid smoke.
Liquid smoke is made by collecting the steam that’s given off when burning various types of wood, and condensing it into a liquid. It literally just contains water (the steam) flavoured by smoke from the burning wood - an infusion of sorts. It’s super flavoursome and very strong, so you only need a little, but it imparts incredible flavour to food. Various woods can be used such as hickory and maple, and each give a slightly different flavour profile to the liquid - this is the one I've used in this recipe here and is completely natural with no flavour enhancers.
So if you covertly still have thoughts about the smokey, salty bacon, definitely give these incredible Smokey Tempeh BLATs a go. I promise you’ll get all the same flavour and more, and be doing your health, animals, and our planet an incredible service at the same time! The tempeh bacon is super quick to make, and will no doubt become a kitchen regular for you after you try it. It stores really well in the fridge too, so is great for making sandwiches or sprinkling over a salad the next day. Combined with creamy avocado, tangy cashew mayo, crisp lettuce and juicy tomatoes, these healthy BLATs really do make the most flavoursome yet refreshingly light lunch (or dinner as we often do).
If you try them, I'd love to see your pics on Instagram - it's always such a treat seeing your recreations and hearing your successes. If you do, tag me @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics and I’ll be sure to pop over and say hello.
Enjoy your smokey sammies this weekend, I’m crossing fingers for more of that lovely sun - these out on the deck would be just perfect. Til next week, stay happy and well.
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Makes 4 sandwiches
Takes 15 minutes
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Smokey Tempeh 'Bacon'
4 tbsp tamari
2 tbsp sweetener*
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1-3 tsp liquid smoke**
2 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 tsp coconut oil
1 cup cashews (soaked 1-2 hours, rinsed and drained)
1/2 c water
Rind, juice & flesh of 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
8 slices of sprouted or wholegrain bread
1 large avocado
*I personally love coconut nectar as a sweetener, for reasons I've outlined here, but you could also use maple syrup, brown rice syrup or whatever liquid sweetener you have in the cupboard.
**3 teaspoons makes for super smokey 'bacon', so if you're new to liquid smoke, I recommend trying the 1 or 2 teaspoon measures to start.
c = 250ml cup, tbsp = 15ml tablespoon, tsp = 5ml teaspoon