Monday, June 11, 2012

Oysters or Aliens?

Confused by the title? As you should be....but let me explain....
About a month ago, my family was in Berkeley celebrating my graduation with me and we dined at the acclaimed Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco. I had been dying to go there for years, and it completely lived up to all the hype! I will do a thorough restaurant review of our meal there soon, but for now, suffice it to say that one of the standouts was the Crusted Oyster Mushrooms that we had as a shared appetizer. My brother and I went CRAZY for these.....there's a slight chance that we fought for the last piece; obviously I won. Here is a picture of the amazing dish:
The Deliciousness that is Crusted Oyster Mushrooms at Millennium Restaurant
Upon returning to LA, I was having recurrent cravings for this dish, and making the trip to San Francisco simply to have these mushrooms was not an option. I decided to try to re-create the dish in the Azarnoush Kitchen. While I was at it I tried to health-ify it a little by baking rather than frying it! The recipe turned out great, although next time I think I would try to incorporate use of the Vegg (New Vegan Egg Yolk Product) in addition to the soymilk in the moist part of the batter.

Recipe for Cornmeal Crusted Oyster Mushrooms (Gluten Free)
- 1 or 2lbs oyster mushrooms
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup unsweetened soymilk (or any other non-dairy milk)
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp nutritional yeast (powedered, not flakes)
- 1 1/2 tsp paprika


Gnarly Looking Oystersss

Line a couple of baking sheets with heavy duty tin foil and pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Wash and thoroughly dry all of your oyster mushrooms. You can also remove the stems if you like; I don't do this because they are still part of the mushroom and have great mushroom flavor so why get rid of them? Some people remove the stems for aesthetic purposes. Speaking of aesthetics, check out what oyster mushrooms look like up close! I think they look pretty awesome/gnarly/ a mouth watering way?
3. Using two medium sized bowls, fill one with the wet ingredients (soymilk), and the other with the dry ingredients. Make sure to thoroughly mix the dry ingredients before continuing.
4. Now make somewhat of an assembly line, with the mushrooms on one side, followed by the two bowls, and then the lined baking sheets.
5. Take one head/piece of a mushroom and thoroughly drench it in the soymilk.
The Assembly Line
6. Tap the mushroom on the side of the bowl to ensure that there is no extra moisture (you don't want to get the dry mixture wet with droplets) and then dip the moistened mushroom into the dry coating. Make sure to coat all sides of the mushroom, the dry mixture should stick readily to the mushroom; if it does not, try sprinkling a little bit more soymilk onto your mushroom and rubbing it in. 
7. Lay the coated mushroom on the lined baking sheet and continue this process until all mushrooms are coated.
8. Pop them in the oven for about 8-10 minutes or until they are golden and crispy looking. 
**Cooking Tip** If you are baking them on two levels of the oven, you should switch them a little past 6 minutes through since the top ones get more heat than the bottom ones. Keep a close eye on them after the 8 minute mark, they may need more than 10 minutes or be done right at 8 depending on your oven, the amount of coating, and the size of the mushrooms.
Fresh out of the Oven!
9. Now there are two options: The first is to take them out of the oven and let them cool a little before eating (they taste best when still warm but not scorching hot)........and the other option is to be a superhero like me and burn your tongue and fingers trying to eat them immediately.....obviously this is the way all the cool kids do it. 

About to be eaten!

Flavor/Serving tip:
- These taste best when warm
- Although they are great on their own (kinda like vegan calamari fritti?), they also taste fantastic with a dipping sauce. Millennium served them with with some fancy-shmansy one, but I just used spicy ketchup and it was delish!
- These would be great as part of a Vegan Po'Boy Sandwich
I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as I did! I will definitely post again once I try making this recipe with the Vegg!

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