I’m writing this to you all snuggled up in front of a toasty fire in Vermont, with my boyfriend and my pup. Life is good. I really love Vermont and skiing – some might event say I’m obsessed with it. Even when I could barely afford to come up here, I’d drive up and sleep in my car in a sleeping bag in 0° weather just so I could still come up and ski. I’m glad I know I’ll always be able to rough it but… this is much nicer. Plus, I have some pumpkin cider and pasta in my belly and bed time is quickly approaching.
But more important than that – today kicks off BACON WEEK! I’ve been super excited about this! Every day for the next 7 days there will be a new recipe featuring vegan bacon. Yes, you read that correctly. Now I know vegan bacon isn’t a new idea, but i’ve tweaked it here and there to suit the recipe. Plus, next Saturday I will be participating in the fall Virtual Vegan Potluck with an extra special “bacon” recipe and linking to hundreds of other vegan bloggers with fantastic recipes.
Now, without further ado, lets talk about these insanely delicious baos, because ermahgawd, you are going to want to make these again and again, and fill them with all sorts of delicious things.
The first time I discovered vegan bacon was through the Simple Veganista’s fabulous recipe. But it made wonder what you could do for a “meatier” texture for larger/ thicker pieces of bacon. When I came across fresh chunks of coconut in my supermarket it just seemed like kismet, and so I adapted The Simple Veganista’s recipe for this. Now, if your supermarket doesn’t sell it in chunks like this you can always get a whole coconut – and if thats not an option the shreds of unsweetened coconut will work just fine. The difference for this recipe is that you cook it with a bit of the “bacon” sauce in it – it gives it less of a crisp bacon texture, and makes it like a thicker piece of “meat”. For anyone who is new to veganism, or misses some old favorites, this will definitely help fill the void.
And as for the baos – don’t be scared. Seriously, you can’t fail at these. I am a disaster at baking bread, so when I started experimenting with these I was like well, this recipe will never work. In fact, the day I had finally planned to serve these – the final run through on the recipe as it were – I had Joe on standby ready for takeout when he got home. He was shocked (um thanks?) that they turned out so well. In fact the day before, at work, they had had a boa food truck and he said mine were better. (Kind of makes up for the lack of faith). Even after you make these baos, I highly suggest you make the dough again and experiment with your own fillings. It’s a lot of fun!
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- 2 cups White Flour
- 1 cup Warm Water
- 5 1/4 tablespoons Sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Active Yeast (should be most of a small packet)
- 18 chunks of Unsweetened Raw Coconut with the skin cut off
- 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
- 2 tablespoons Liquid Smoke
- 2 tablespoons Maple Syrup
- 1 bunch Cilantro
- 1 cup Peanuts
- 1/3 cup Water
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Sriracha
- 1/4 head Purple Cabbage, sliced
- Mix together warm water and sugar until it dissolves and add yeast. Place flour in a stand mixer bowl. Once yeast has bloomed, pour yeast water into mixer, and mix on low for 7-8 minutes until dough is sticky. Cover with a damp towel and let sit in a warm place to let dough rise.
- After about 2 hours punch dough dough down and place it on a clean, unfloured surface. Cut it into 9, equal and oval shaped pieces and place them on rectangular pieces of parchment paper. Using your fingers spread the dough out so it is thinner in the middle and thicker at the tips. Cover each of them with another piece of rectangular parchment paper and let sit for another hour to rise some more.
- Meanwhile, in a food processor mix together peanuts, water, brown sugar, sriracha and remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce until a thick chunky paste forms. Add more sriracha as desired.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Fold, baos, in half, over top piece of parchment paper, creating a "C" shape with the dough. Place baos, on steamer tray, not touching. (Steam the baos in batches if necessary). Steam for 10 minutes, lifting the lid every 2-3 minutes to let steam escape. Remove carefully and let cool.
- Preheat oven to 300° and mix 2 tablespoons soy sauce, liquid smoke and maple syrup in a bowl. Add coconut, stir and let sit for 10 minutes to soak in some of liquid. Place coconut on a foil lined baking sheet and pour about half of the mixture on it, lightly covering the coconut and leaving a little liquid on the sheet. Bake for about 25-35 minutes (depending on thickness of coconut chunks) until coconut is sticky and light brown. In last 10 minutes check periodically to make sure its not burning. Remove and keep warm.
- Using a knife spread peanut sauce on inside of boa, and place 2 pieces of coconut bacon on top. Garnish with cilantro and cabbage. Eat warm.
- Bao can be reheated (and remoistened) by microwaving for 10-20 seconds).