Recipe - Spicy Shallot Lion's Mane Mushroom

Our exploration of the Hollywood Farmers' Market's unique mushroom selection a while back exposed us to several mushrooms we had never seen before. One of these was the lion's mane, a bulbous large structure of seemingly-fluffy fungus that was a brilliant white. It was quite beautiful and looked toothy though it was not. After further researching on what it really was, I decided that I had to take other chefs' words on it being a good substitute for lobster/scallops for vegetarians and vegans. At first, I could not truly believe that this soft mushroom could possess the same tastes and traits as seafood but once I worked with it, I was surprised to find it an apt replacement. These are a tad bit expensive to get ahold of but I would highly recommend experiencing them at least once.

Step 1: Ingredients (yields 2 servings)

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed red chile pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 4 shallots, sliced thinly
  • 4 oz lion's mane mushrooms, torn
  • 6 oz imitation crab flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Step 2: Preparing the ingredients
The great thing about lion's mane is that it is sturdy enough to hold up against a wringing of water. This allows the cook to wash the mushroom thoroughly and squeeze it like a kitchen sponge to expunge the water without worrying about damaging the mushroom. Even pulling the pieces apart as I tore them into more manageable sizes, I could see that the texture was similar to cooked lobster meat or even scallop. It was resilient and fun to play with really.

Step 3: Cooking mushrooms
In a large skillet, cook together the oil, crushed chile, and paprika. It will become quite aromatic and once the oils from the peppers start to seep out, add in mushrooms and shallots. Mushrooms retain plenty of water so allow for the water to release and then evaporate. This will give plenty of time for the shallots to cook. The mushrooms will start to brown.

Step 4: Finishing
In most cases, those imitation crab flakes you find in packages are cooked already. While you could use real crab with this dish, I really wanted to focus more on the mushrooms and use the imitation crab as just an accompaniment. Throw these into the pan last and stir around until heated through, being careful not to shred. Serve on the side with rice.

Photography by Duc Duong.