Shiitake bacon is delicious. It really does taste just like bacon. And yes, it's putzy, but if you have some thick, solid, log-grown shiitake, you can slice it, cure it (marinate), and roast it in a hot oven. Shiitake bacon has a rich and buttery flavor, complete with chewy centers and crispy edges. It also makes for a delicious and incredibly healthy snack, as it stays crisp for several hours after cooling from the oven. Great for making BLT's, or pairing with eggs and other breakfast fare.
The following recipe produces enough Shiitake bacon for about 4 SBLT's.
4 cups sliced thick Shiitake mushrooms
2 Tbsp. oil
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. liquid smoke
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. smoked paprika (optional)
2 tsp. maple syrup (optional)
Stem the Shiitake and slice it thinly. 1/8th inch or less is preferable for the ultimate crispness.
To prepare the marinade, stir together all ingredients, and drizzle over the sliced Shiitakes. Toss the mushrooms in the marinade until all of the slices are fairly well coated and let them marinate at room temperature for at least 20 minutes (or up to 1 hour). Stir the mushrooms a time or two to help speed things along. You can also marinate and refrigerate overnight to achieve comparable pork bacon cooking times in the morning.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. and spread the mushrooms out onto a baking sheet. Use parchment or a silpat for easy work, or grease the sheet first. Bake 20 minutes, stirring or turning halfway through. If the mushrooms are really wet you may need to drain away any liquid halfway through.
Increase the heat to 375° F. and check every 10 minutes or so, more often towards the end. If the mushrooms were sliced thinly, they are usually done in 10-15 minutes following the increase in oven temp (but ovens vary greatly, so just make sure to look in on them often). Remove the mushrooms from oven and place them onto a paper towel and blot off excess moisture. They should appear browned and irresistible, not burnt.
Once you have a taste for Shiitake bacon, you may want to experiment with other seasoning in the marinade or with thicknesses of cut; or grilling marinated whole, thin-capped mushrooms.
For inspiration, check out www.olivesfordinner.com, for the original Shiitake bacon recipe, plus other great vegan mushroom recipe ideas.