Friday, December 23, 2016

Deconstructed vegan sushi bowl with wild mushrooms. Gluten-freewildcrafted food. Foraging recipe.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays. With such an abundance of wild winter mushrooms in the woods this year, I feel like I've already unwrapped tons of presents. I've found nearly 10lbs of one of my favorites: Pleurotus ostreatus, aka the winter oyster mushroom! Oyster mushrooms are found in temperate regions, and even in the tropics, world-wide. They are fairly easy to identify, have medicinal qualities, and frequently fruit in abundance, making them a great wild food. And, of course, you don't have to forage for them, you can get them at almost any market!

Oyster mushrooms pack a lot of protein for a small amount of calories. They are famous for their dense, meaty texture, and are often used as a vegan meat substitute. In this dish, however, I've used their subtle seafood flavor (the reason they are called oyster mushrooms), and enhanced it using dill and celery salt, to make a delicious vegan substitute for raw fish in this deconstructed sushi bowl.

Some stumps were completely covered in oysters!
As part of my plan to eat healthier this holiday season, and so to try and balance out some of the over-indulgence, this sushi bowl is low in fat, low in sugar, and rich in nutrients (including micronutrients). Most of the ingredients are naturally gluten-free, the only one for you to really look out for is the soy sauce, but you can find gluten-free versions at Whole Foods and others, fairly easily. Most sushi vinegars are also gluten-free, just double check the label to confirm your brand is. Finally, oyster mushrooms and seaweed are considered superfoods!

The secret to the enhanced seafood flavor is celery salt, dill and white wine

Deconstructed oyster mushroom sushi bowl

Serves 2 for dinner, 3 for lunch, 10 as an appetizer/hors d'oeuvre
1lb fresh oyster mushrooms
Prepared nori (seaweed sheets)
2 cup sushi rice
1 avocado
High temperature olive oil (or a mixture of olive oil and butter)
1/8 cup semi-dry white wine (I used sauvignon blanc)
Dried dill
1 tsp. freshly ground fennel seed
Dried ramps or dried chives
Celery salt
Seasoned sushi vinegar
Pickled honey mushrooms (optional), recipe here
Other pickled vegetables (optional)
Soy sauce and prepared wasabi, to serve
  1. Start by rinsing your sushi rice in a colander several times,until the water runs clear. Prepare your rice according to package directions. 
  2. Slice your oyster mushrooms into strips about 1 inch wide. Heat olive oil and fennel seed, (and butter, if using) over medium high heat (I used a 7-8 on my stove). When the oil is hot, gently slide the mushrooms in, being careful not to crowd the pan. Work in multiple batches, if needed. 
  3. Sprinkle each mushroom with celery salt. When they are half-way cooked, and nicely browned (about 4 minutes), add a pinch of dried dill and a tsp. of dried ramps or chives, spreading evenly over the mushrooms. Then flip them, so they uncooked side is in the oil. 
  4. After another 4 minutes or so, when both sides are evenly cooked, remove the mushrooms and drain on paper towels. Repeat the process, if needed, until all your mushrooms are cooked.
  5. Add all the oysters back into the pan, it doesn't matter if they are a little crowded. Keep on medium high, and pour in the white wine. Deglaze while tossing the mushrooms to coat. Continue to cook, tossing or stirring occasionally, until the wine is absorbed. 
  6. Prepare your sushi bowls with rice, prepared nori, sliced avacado, and pickled veggies. Serve with soy sauce and prepared wasabi. 

Holiday bonus: If you prepare individual nori sheets with a small dollop of sushi rice, a strip of oyster mushroom, and a cube of avocado, you can use the same ingredient to make tasty and appealing vegan hors d'oeuvres, or appetizers. You can even roll them up, and provide each guest a small amount of soy, for dipping. 

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