This ingredient is also thought to hold the answer to all kinds of essential issues – from curing cancer and supporting mental health to creating biofuel and building materials.
Vegan food has exploded in popularity over the past few years, with more and more people realizing the benefits of a plant-based diet.
With this growing popularity and acceptance, people are becoming increasingly creative with their plant-based ingredients. From jackfruit to tofu, there are plenty of vegan substitutes that are now getting noticed for their versatility and flavour. However, there is one vegan ingredient that has been flying under the radar for far too long – and that’s mushroom!
‘The new tofu’
Culinary fungi are one of nature’s most versatile, diverse, and health-promoting foods. Their unique umami flavor and meaty texture make them a delicious addition to many plant-based dishes and the perfect meat substitute.
Despite their versatility, they may not be the first ingredient that comes to mind when you think of vegan cooking or does it?
Pinky Cole, the owner of vegan restaurant Slutty Vegan, believes it’s a game-changer. In an exclusive interview with Mashed, she revealed that king oyster mushrooms and maitake mushrooms are some of the most underrated vegan ingredients.
According to Cole, who made it big selling burgers made from plant-based meat substitutes such as Beyond Meat and Impossible meat, the 2 varieties of mushrooms are “the new tofu.”
“Mushrooms are the best replacement, in my humble opinion, [for] meat-based items because you can get the same effect,” she said.
King oyster mushrooms are a great ingredient for cooking because they have a texture similar to meat and a mild flavor. You can cook them in many ways, such as grilling, broiling, or braising.
Maitake mushrooms, on the other hand, have a strong and earthy taste and are used in many dishes like salads, stir-fries, and omelets.
So are mushrooms worth the credit Cole gives them?
The short answer is: yes!
Moreover, mushrooms research, also called mycology, is thought to hold the answer to all kinds of essential issues – from curing cancer and supporting mental health to creating biofuel and building materials.
Having said that, let’s find out more about this scrumptious, nourishing, and honestly, delightful fungi.
Edible mushrooms may lack colour, which results in them being an underrated plant-based food, but they’re surprisingly nutritious and satiating.
They are also rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals such as selenium, copper, phosphorus, potassium, and iron while delivering other essential nutrients like carbohydrates, protein, and fiber, which keep your body functioning at its best.
Mushrooms are surprisingly easy to grow, especially the oyster and shiitake varieties.
Other mushroom species that beginners might want to try growing include maitake, reishi, chanterelles, or lion’s mane.
They can all be grown from kits using coffee grounds, straw, wood chips, or other non-animal organic debris.
How to cook mushrooms?
If you want to add edible mushrooms to your dishes, it’s best to cook them over medium-high heat to reduce their water content and intensify their flavor.
Roasting is a great option as it brings out their meaty and savory taste.
Sautéing with a small amount of liquid like water or vegetable broth can also enhance their umami flavor.
Cole suggests cooking king oyster mushrooms by slicing them into scallop shapes, and adding vegan butter, capers, seasoning, and oil for a delicious mock-scallop dish.
Different types of mushrooms can add unique tastes and textures to your meals, and they can be diced and added to various dishes like salads, soups, stews, and sandwiches.
Mushroom powder is also a healthy way to consume them, as you can add it to your drinks.
So, if you’re looking to up your vegan cooking game, don’t overlook mushrooms. This humble ingredient may be underrated, but it has a lot to offer in terms of flavor and nutrition. So next time you’re at the grocery store, add mushrooms to your shopping cart and start experimenting – you won’t be disappointed!
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