THE WASHINGTON POST – Toward the end of the introduction to her new cookbook, Miyoko Schinner wrote what might be the best comeback I’ve read to a frequent question, “Why would a vegan or vegetarian want to eat something that reminds them of meat?” I often find the question annoying because it is so often asked with a “gotcha!” attitude that reveals much about the person asking.
Schinner’s answer, “The truth is that we just want something substantive that’s chewy, tasty, and succulent. I don’t think most people – vegan or even omnivore – care if it tastes exactly like meat; they just want something to bite into with a lot of flavour.”
Founder of the vegan cheese and butter company Miyoko’s Creamery, Schinner wrote The Vegan Meat Cookbook partly as a response to the new wave of commercially available meat alternatives, including the so-called tech meats introduced by Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods.
She noted that some of them have justifiably drawn fire for including “mysterious, often unpronounceable ingredients, leaving some people questioning how truly healthy or ‘natural’ they are”. But she also defends them as better than “cholesterol-and-hormone-laden” animal flesh, adding that at this “critical point in history… we must think beyond our individual health to consider that of the planet and animals, both domestic and wild”.
Schinner’s book includes plenty of recipes that use such products. But I was more interested in recipes for her own DIY meat alternatives, since she uses non-mysterious, easily pronounceable ingredients in them. And given that I’m such a fan of mushrooms, I was happy to see so many of her strategies put them to delicious-looking use.
My favourite recipe so far uses one of the biggest mushrooms around – the king trumpet (aka king oyster). But in this case, you pull the mushrooms, shredding them with a fork, before you cook them, rather than after. Then you toss them in a fairly simple marinade of soy sauce, olive oil, maple syrup and smoked paprika to infuse smoky, sweet, salty and umami flavours, before browning them in a skillet. They turn into an element you’ll want to use in tacos, burritos, sandwiches, salads and grain bowls, making this recipe the answer to questions you didn’t even know you had.
PULLED KING TRUMPET MUSHROOMS
You’ll think of dozens of ways to use these fork-shredded mushrooms, which soak up their marinade and turn juicy and succulent in the pan. Their texture is delicate, yet they would be at home in tacos, enchiladas or sandwiches, or tossed with pasta or rice.
Storage Note: The mushrooms can be refrigerated for up to five days. Reheat in a hot skillet.
One pound king trumpet mushrooms
Three tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
Two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
One tablespoon maple syrup
One teaspoon smoked paprika
Pinch fine sea salt (optional)
Pull the tines of a fork down the length of each mushroom to shred it, breaking up the head with your fingers, if needed.
In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, one tablespoon of olive oil, the maple syrup and smoked paprika.
Add the mushrooms and toss well to coat.
In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, heat the remaining one tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until they release their liquid, it evaporates and they start to brown and stick, 10-15 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.