Mushrooms: My New Love Affair
My most recent love affair with a vegetable is with King Oyster Mushrooms. Such versatility! So much fun playing in the kitchen, tweaking recipes like this one for ‘Pulled Pork’.
Last week’s have-at-it was transforming these mushrooms that look like fattened-up rods into scallops. So easy. So delicious. Definitely servable to omnivores … and one of those recipes where you really couldn’t tell the difference. Those of you who know me, know that I don’t say that lightly … I am a firm believer that one of the worst things we could say to an omnivore is “oh, don’t worry, you can’t tell the difference”. I much prefer saying something along the lines of, “this is reminiscent of what I remember (fill in the blank with whatever food you are talking about) tasting like”. That way, I’m not setting them up for taste-bud disappointment or worse yet, failure.
But King Oyster Mushrooms, now they are a different plant all together. Not only are vegan ‘scallops’ readily traversable to an omnivore but equally so is my Pulled ‘Pork’ recipe.
So, first of all, where can you find King Oyster Mushrooms? I first found them at the local farmer’s market, at $6 a piece! Not knowing any better and having been unsuccessfully on the prowl for them for quite some time already, I acquiesced and purchased three.
I then stumbled upon them at a market in Peoria, called LeeLee International Market. What a find (both this market and, of course, the mushrooms)! They were being sold in two-packs for under $4 for the package. So you know what I did, of course! I bought all the packets there were on the shelf (there were only two, but trust me, I would have bought eight if they had them!)
On the almost two-hour drive home to the Sedona area, my mind was racing. I knew my next adventure was going to be pulled ‘pork’; but how to make them? By the time I arrived home, I had my plan.
The Plan in Action
I started by ‘shredding’ the mushrooms, which was quite fun actually. I started using a dinner fork, but that proved to be much too fine for my liking. So out came the large serving fork. Ah, much better! Starting at the bottom third of the mushroom and turning it round and round as I pierced and pulled with the fork, I kept shredding the mushroom until it looked like a stringy tassel. Cutting off the tassels just below that unshredded part of the mushroom, I proceeded to repeat the process with the middle third, and then finished with the upper third.
The result – perfectly shredded ‘pork’.
I decided that, before slow roasting it in barbecue sauce, I needed to give the mushrooms some flavor and texture that would be akin to the taste and texture of its non-vegan alternative. Easy enough. Similar to the non-veg version, I marinated the mushrooms in a wet rub (versus a dry rub), then roasted them on a cookie sheet pan in the oven until they were a mix of having some crusty bark and color.
After removing them from the oven, I allowed them to cool first so that they would retain their new-found texture and flavor before tossing them with barbecue sauce.
Keeping it simple, I purchased Trader Joe’s Organic Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce. It has just the right amount of heat and packs a punch of flavor. I tossed the roasted mushrooms with a generous amount of the BBS sauce, and poured into a Dutch oven. Into a low and slow oven for two hours, and magic happened!
I had the absolutely most delicious, pulled ‘pork’ ever! And it really couldn’t have been any easier. A great dish for a potluck. Even better, bring it to your next outdoor barbecue with some rolls, and maybe some veg coleslaw to adorn the ‘pork’. You will be the barbecue rock star! Or at least, the Pulled ‘Pork’ Rock Star.