By Raymond Bill
It has been nearly a year since I made the decision to embrace a plant-based lifestyle and in that time, I have learned many vegan substitutions for the foods I used to love that are just as good, if not better than the original. One of my favorite comfort foods has always been tacos, but it did not take long for me to learn that finding plant-based options at a Mexican restaurant is nearly impossible. So, I decided that I would find a way to recreate as many Mexican dishes as I could with healthy, easy to make recipes of my own. As I was walking through our local Palm Springs Farmer’s Market one Saturday morning, I found my inspiration in king oyster mushrooms.
I had heard that some mushroom varieties were able to achieve a shredded, “meat-like” texture, including King Trumpet and King Oyster mushrooms. I decided to put this to the test and the results were better than I could have imagined. These tacos are plant-based, gluten-free (with the corn tortillas) and incredibly delicious. Here is how you can recreate this new favorite of mine.
What you will need:
- 1 pound of king oyster mushrooms
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1-2 tsp chili powder or chipotle powder
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion (white or yellow)
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 jalapeno, diced
- 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (optional but delicious)
- ½ cup fresh orange juice
- Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, shred the oyster mushrooms between two forks The caps will easily pull apart while the stems will be tougher and more fibrous. This will give it the meaty texture.
Add to the mushrooms (or mix separately and combine) cumin, oregano, chili powder, salt and pepper to taste, and 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss the mushrooms to evenly coat them with your seasonings. Feel free at this point to be creative and add seasonings that you prefer such as ground coriander or specialty taco seasoning blends to make this recipe uniquely yours.
Once you have coated your shredded mushrooms with the dry ingredients and the olive oil, spread them evenly over a pre-lined baking sheet. I use a silicon mat, but parchment paper works just as well. Place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes until the edges are crispy. For even cooking, be sure to stir them halfway.
While the mushrooms are baking in the oven, heat a large skillet on the stove at medium heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil along with chopped onion (I prefer the onion chopped into strips, but diced onion is fine too), minced garlic, diced jalapeno, and a pinch of salt. I prefer my onions caramelized but feel free to sauté the onions to your desired color, this should take about 10-15 minutes.
Finally, add the mushrooms to the skillet and combine with the orange juice, Worcestershire sauce, and any additional salt and pepper to taste. Cook the mixture until the juice has been absorbed and the mushrooms are slightly crisp. Try not to over stir at this point so that the mushrooms can achieve the desired texture. This should take about 5-10 minutes.
Once this is complete you are ready to enjoy. I like to have fresh diced white onion and chopped cilantro and avocado but dress your tacos however you like and have fun with it! These are not going to taste exactly like carnitas, but you will have transformed the mushrooms into something amazing that will impress your friends and family.