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!
6 king oyster mushrooms (2-3 more would maybe use up all the crumbs)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp lemon juice (half a lemon)
1/2 cup ground golden flaxseed
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp garlic granules
1/4 tsp onion granules
1/4 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/8 tsp dried sage
1/8 tsp dried marjoram
1/8 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp black salt
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked at least an hour in 1/2 cup warm water (reserve water)
3/4 cup crushed tomatoes (15 oz canned)
1/4 tsp wasabi, or to taste (this was not spicy)
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice (half a lemon)
1/4 tsp sea salt
pinch black pepper
1. Slice the stem of the mushrooms into 1/4-inch thick disks. Caps can be saved for another use. Using a paring knife, cut a whole in the center of the larger pieces. Toss the mushroom rings into the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Let marinate for 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, combine the flaxseed, herbs, chili powder, and lemon pepper into a bowl to create the “breading” mixture.
3. In the meantime, to make the cocktail sauce, add soaked sun-dried tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, wasabi, shallot, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper into the food processor and pulse until smooth. Thin with water used to soak the sun-dried tomatoes (I used around 1/2 cup). Place into serving bowl and set aside.
4. Once the mushrooms have marinated, add them into the “breading mixture” and toss to coat. Place the “calamari” onto a mesh dehydrator sheet. Dehydrate for about 3-5 hours at 115F until warm and slightly crisp. Alternatively, bake in a preheated oven at 425F for 10 minutes on a silpat-lined baking sheet (this would not technically be considered raw, but still delicious and faster to make!).
5. To serve, cut a lemon into wedges and place on the serving platter with calamari and cocktail sauce.