Goodness knows my friends and coworkers, let alone my readers here, are fully aware of my new obsession with mushrooms and cooking with them.
But heck, if you’re reading this, how could I not continue to try new recipes with them, considering how wonderfully varied their cooking uses?
So when Jesse over at Humble Fungus touted the qualities of lion’s mane mushrooms as a seafood substitute, I couldn’t resist following his advice.
…And then proceed to buy some mushrooms. Because of course I did!
Lion’s mane really does smell faintly of fresh seafood and, when picked apart into strips, strongly resembles shredded crab meat. It takes time and patience to transform it into that state, but with a great friend, some music, or an audiobook, I promise that it’s well worth the effort.
Since we had some friends coming over for a late lunch last Sunday, I decided to make a larger batch of the “crab” cakes. A whole pound of lion’s mane, pictured above, wandered home in my market bag with me, and it took my best friend and I about twenty minutes to go from whole mushrooms to shredded.
If you’re making these for two people, definitely stick with a half pound per the recipe, because that amount can easily yield 4-6 cakes. Small but mighty, these can fill you up quickly.
Some quick notes:
- Feel free to up the ante on the Scoville scale by using jalapeño or habañero peppers, but you run the risk of overpowering the delicate nuances of the mushrooms. I tend to stick with shishitos or, most recently, Hatch chilies because they’re in season.
- The hot sauce I’ve used from the beginning is the Red Belly from Green Belly Foods. It’s smoky and flavorful with just enough heat to keep things interesting. I fully recommend them!
- If you’d like to convert this to a full vegan recipe, you can use egg alternatives.
Without further ado, then, onto the recipe itself!
Adapted from The Forager Chef’s Hericium Crab Cakes Recipe
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
Yields: 4-6 cakes
- 1/2 pound lion’s mane mushrooms
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup shishito peppers, minced
- 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup mayo (or Miracle Whip)
- 2 tablespoons oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
- 1-2 tablespoons “smoky” hot sauce (such as Red Belly)
- One egg
- About 2-3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Lemon juice, for serving
- Salad or mixed greens, for serving
- Cast iron skillet
- Large mixing bowl
- Ring mold (optional, but recommended)
(1) Pick apart mushrooms until they resemble shredded crab meat.
(2) Crack the egg into a mixing bowl, and add shishitos, breadcrumbs, and mayo. Give it a good mix with a fork, and then add the oregano, paprika, ancho chile powder, and hot sauce. Mix again. Set aside.
(3) In a large pot (such as a Dutch oven) or large pan, add the mushrooms, 1/4 tsp salt, and the water. Cover and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until mushrooms have wilted.
(4) Line a large plate (or cookie sheet) with paper towels. Transfer the mushrooms to the plate. Allow to cool, and then use additional paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible from the mushrooms.
(5) Add cooled and dried mushrooms to the mixing bowl. Using a spatula, combine the mushrooms with the peppers/breadcrumbs/spice mixture from step two. If desired, add up to 1/4 tsp of salt to the final mixture.
(A note: I personally don’t taste anything with raw egg in it. If you’re okay with doing so while knowing the associated health risks, taste and adjust spices or salt accordingly at this stage.)
(6) Cover the bowl and place in refrigerator. Rest for ten minutes minimum if you’re impatient, but you can also keep this chilled overnight to cook the next day.
(7) Preheat oven to 350°F.
(8) Dust a plate with the flour. Using the ring mold, form the cooled and rested mixture into cakes of 3-4 oz, dredging each with flour on both sides.
(9) Heat cast iron skillet with olive oil, carefully placing cakes onto the surface once it comes to temperature at medium heat. Once cakes are nicely browned on the bottom, flip them and transfer the skillet to the oven for approximately ten minutes — you want them to be hot all the way through to the middle.
(10) As the cakes warm in the oven, dress serving plates with mixed greens. Once you’ve placed finished cakes on the greens, drizzle lemon juice over them and serve. I devour them with a bit of extra hot sauce, but scallions or additional mayo are other options if you’re more refined than I.
And of course, it wouldn’t be Seeking Continual Flavor if I didn’t suggest a wine pairing with this gorgeous food.
Because the cakes have high umami content and some chili heat, stick to unoaked whites like a New Zealand or South African Sauvignon Blanc for great tropical notes to complement the seafood-like texture and flavors.
Want to splurge? Go instead for an austere, citrusy Sancerre, or even a high-end Spanish Cava for some sparkle.