the taste space

Raw King Oyster “Calamari” (or Baked)

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites, Sides by Janet M on July 26, 2012

Amongst my closer friends and family, I am the only vegan. Quite a few of my friends are vegetarian, but my closest vegan buddy is in Vancouver. That’s across one big country. One of my co-workers is a former vegan, choosing to eat fish as an omega supplement mostly. ;) I have yet to know anyone who has tried raw cuisine without my influence. Most of my friends are adventurist eaters, so I can share my kitchen successes and failures. While I eat vegan mainly for health and environmental reasons, sometimes I wonder about connecting with other like-minded souls.

A few months ago, I travelled with Rob to meet some of his friends from Burning Man. While mostly everyone was vegetarian, it was exciting to meet someone else who also dabbled in raw cuisine. She encouraged me to try banana chips in the dehydrator and told me about one of her raw successes: King Oyster Calamari from Living Raw Food by Sarma Melngailis. Sarma’s restaurant, Pure Food and Wine in NYC, is my favourite raw resto to date, so I was eager to try the dish when I got home. King oyster mushrooms were on sale, too, to boot. I didn’t have the cookbook, but a quick google search led me to Emily’s site which had the recipe.

The recipe was simple: marinate king oyster mushrooms, bread them with spiced ground flaxseeds (works as both the breading and egg-substitute!) and then dehydrate. My new-found friend also gave me a few other tips.

While the recipe says to dehydrate for 2-3 hours, she suggested dehydrating up to 5 hours for them to become really crispy. She also warned me that the whole recipe made a ton of food, so I halved it. (I also quartered the cocktail sauce below, since I ended up thinning it and had an overabundance of sauce leftover). I tinkered with the recipe since I don’t have an Italian spice blend, and instead added whatever looked like an Italian spice from my spice drawer: basil, thyme, marjoram, oregano, sage, parsley. I threw in some dried onion and garlic granules as well as lemon pepper seasoning instead of the black pepper. Even though I used chili powder, too, I dipped my finger in and thought something was missing. I added black salt. Now we were set. (Note to self: next time I may try this with nutritional yeast and smoked paprika, since I liked that with my Asiago-crusted baked zucchini sticks). I had a bit of leftover crumbs, so you could probably increase the number of mushrooms with this mixture – or pack it in more than I did.

Now, if you don’t have a dehydrator, do not fear. You can still make vegan calamari! I made these both ways: raw in the dehydrator for 3 hours and a separate batch for 10 minutes in the oven. I don’t care too much about the raw philosophy of not cooking over 115F, but I love the inventive recipes… so to hurry things up, I stuck some in the oven, too. Both were good great. They honestly tasted like calamari. No hidden mushrooms here (Rob thinks he could taste mushrooms but only because he knew they were in there). Between the two versions, though, I preferred the raw dehydrated ones. They were more crispy and the breading stayed on (some of it stuck to my silpat in my oven version). The oven-baked version had more of a slippery calamari feel to it, though. In any case (or in both cases), Rob said he liked them better than regular calamari since it has a cleaner taste. I also preferred this version instead of the typical deep-fried options you find at restos.  Bright and fresh, healthy food, what’s not to like?

Speaking of connecting with other like-minded souls, I was wondering if I have any readers in the GTA that would like get connected? I was really sad I missed Sarah’s potluck in the park, especially since it looked like it was a lot of fun!

This is being submitted to this month’s Monthly Mingle featuring yellow foods and to this weeks Raw Foods Thursdays.

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Pan-Seared King Oyster Mushrooms and Baby Bok Choy in a Coconut Tamarind Sauce with a Caramelized Leek and Wasabi Millet Mash

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by Janet M on December 7, 2011


Sorry about the lack of diversity in my month of cruciferous vegetables. I know what it must look like to you: lots of broccoli, some kale with a bit of daikon and baby bok choy. Actually it looked like this: kale, daikon, broccoli, kale, broccoli, broccoli, kale, broccoli, baby bok choy and broccoli, and broccoli with a side of Napa cabbage. I’ll be honest: broccoli was on sale. A few weeks in a row. ;) I’ll try to make my next few posts with different cruciferous veggies.

Pop quiz:

Which cruciferous vegetables are in this meal? Check all that apply.
a. broccoli
b. baby bok choy
c. cauliflower
d. king oyster mushroom
e. leek
f. tamarind
g. potato
h. wasabi

Have a headache yet? Flashback to an undergrad midterm? SORRY!

I just want you to know your cruciferous veggies..

Don’t be fooled. The answers are baby bok choy, cauliflower and WASABI! Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable but not in this recipe (sad, I know). King oyster mushrooms, leeks and tamarind are not cruciferous vegetables, but still good! While there is a mash here, there are no potatoes in this recipe!

Did you know that wasabi is a cruciferous vegetable? Thought it only came in powder form? Well, wasabi is actually a root vegetable. When I visited Japan, I visited the Daiõ Wasabi Farm outside Hotaka, which is the largest wasabi farm in the world. Not only were there fields upon fields of growing wasabi (pic above), they also had the roots for sale along with other wasabi treats like wasabi soup, wasabi soba noodles, wasabi wine, wasabi lollipops and my favourite: wasabi ice cream! I was a spice novice at that time, and still loved it: the spicy wasabi was off-set by lots of sweetness. The ice cream had a mild background of wasabi and vanilla perhaps, but lovely at the same time.


Sadly, wasabi is difficult to grow and thus expensive. Outside Japan, wasabi is commonly substituted with (cheaper) horseradish, mustard and green food colouring. Have no fear, Eden sells genuine wasabi powder. And yes, Sunny’s sells it for half the price of The Big Carrot.

This meal, which is actually 2 recipes, must have the longest name of anything on this blog so far. These long descriptive names are what have me drooling at restaurants, so I love to point of all the nuances of my dishes, too. The longer the name, the longer the ingredient list, and thus probably the longer it took me to make this. Denis Cotter loves to make multi-component meals, and this is no exception. Adapted from his recipe in For the Love of Food, I increased the vegetables, especially the baby bok choy and decreased the coconut milk. Meaty king oyster mushrooms were pan-fried in coconut oil then stir-fried with ginger and the baby bok choy. A light tangy broth with tamarind and coconut milk rounded out the sauce and offered a nice contrast in flavours.

As an Irishman, Cotter adores potatoes and served this with mashed potatoes spiced with caramelized leeks and wasabi.

I opted to try a different a kind of mash: the monster mash.

I mean, the millet mash. With cauliflower. And caramelized leeks and wasabi, as per Cotter.

The cauliflower millet mash is courtesy of Sarah, and while it doesn’t taste like mashed potatoes, it has a creaminess akin to mashed potatoes. As a blank slate, it can take any flavours you throw at it, including the subtly sweet caramelized leeks and the spicy wasabi. Juxtaposed next to the tangy coconut broth with the vegetables, you have a crazy concoction of cruciferous vegetables.


This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Marta from Viaggiare è un po’ come mangiare.

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Raw Mushroom “Bul Go Gi” Lettuce Wrap

Posted in Appetizers, Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by Janet M on October 5, 2011

Who doesn’t love a good massage? Veggies love them, too. Show them your love. They will love you back.

I know you’ve probably heard of raw massaged kale salads before (if not, you’re missing out!). You may even massage your cabbage for coleslaw.

But have you heard of massaging your mushrooms, too?

I like non-button mushrooms, but only if cooked. I will shun all raw mushrooms you throw at me. But now I know how to enjoy them raw. Massage your love into them with a delicious marinade.

This recipe is courtesy of Ani’s Raw Food Asia and I think it is pretty ingenious. She replicates Korean bulgogi, which describes the way Korean cuisine uses an open flame to cook their food. The food is usually marinaded in a Korean-style BBQ sauce. Ani does this all without turning on a flame.

A salty-sweet marinade is combined with meaty king oyster mushrooms. Massaging them allows the marinade to permeate the mushrooms but also tenderizes them. Slightly chewy, sweet-salty shrooms. Oh yeah. As king oyster mushroom are fairly meaty, when chopped into non-mushroom shapes, you could possibly fool mushroom haters completely. The marinade is that masking. They won’t think it is meat but they may not know it was a mushroom.

Next, you make a Korean hot chili pepper paste, but mine was more of a salty-sweet paste as the main component was miso with toasted sesame oil. I tamed the paste to my palate by using Aleppo chili flakes but definitely add to taste.

To complete the lettuce wraps, fill the wrap with julienned cucumber, carrots, raw garlic, a smidgen of the Korean chili paste and of course, your marinaded bulgogi mushrooms.

Wrap and roll, guys!

This is my submission to this month’s Simple and in Season, to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays, to E.A.T. World for Korea, to Ricki’s Wellness Weekends, and to this month’s My Kitchen, My World destination Korea.

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