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A Meatless Bacon Mayo with an Ingredient List You Won't Believe

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It would not be unreasonable to balk at the official the name of this recipe—"Bacon Mayo (for Vegetarians and Meat Eaters)"—and its motley crew of disparate ingredients: toasted Lapsang souchong tea leaves, soy sauce, allspice, mayonnaise, and... drumroll please... grape jelly.

What mad scientist came up with this concoction, which sounds, with all due respect, like one of the mystery sloshes I'd mix together during our sixth grade lunch break and dare a classmate to try?

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Vegetarian Bacon Mayonnaise (No Bacon!)
Vegetarian Bacon Mayonnaise (No Bacon!)

It's none other than Tyler Kord, chef at No. 7 Sub, author of A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches, and scrambled egg whisperer.

Kord offers no explanation for how he discovered that this combination of ingredients, when allowed to steep and, yes, marry, would be reminiscent of smoky bacon. Was it an act of desperation or of genius? Is there a difference? Kord does say this:

Sometimes you want to put bacon on a sandwich, but then you realize that you are a vegetarian. This is not quite like putting bacon on a sandwich, because it won't have the texture of bacon. But it will taste like bacon. And if you make it with Vegenaise, then you have vegan Bacon Mayo!

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There she is, in all her glory!
There she is, in all her glory! Photo by Bobbi Lin

I have never tasted bacon. I have never had a BLT. But I know how bacon smells. (Because, yes, sometime I smell it in my dreams.) And I can tell you, this mayonnaise smelled like bacon—and it tasted good, too: smoky, salty, sweet.

I'm not the only one who thought so, either. Our test kitchen chef Josh Cohen vouched for me: Slather the mayonnaise on bread, slap it with a tomat-ah slice, and close your eyes. You just might be worried you've accidentally hit on pork.

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So maybe you're a vegetarian who misses bacon, or a vegetarian who's interested in what bacon tastes like, or a badge-wearing bacon braggart who's found himself or herself bacon-bare, but with grape jelly, soy sauce, and Lapsang souchang to spare. Either way, you'll want to taste this to believe it. And don't be discouraged if it's not bacon-y after the initial mix. Try back in an hour, then tell us what you think.

And hey, Chef Kord: Can we get a vegetarian lox cream cheese next? Asking for myself.

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Vegetarian Bacon Mayonnaise (No Bacon!)

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Makes 1 1/2 cups
  • 2 teaspoons Lapsang Souchong tea leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon grape jelly
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
Go to Recipe

Still feeling happy? More super upsetting stuff from the Super Upsetting Cookbook:

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Are vegetarians seriously missing out on bacon? Share your thoughts in the comments below!