Vegan ‘Scallops’ with Garlic, Chilli and Lemon

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My vegan friends, I have always been a bit suspicious of seafood. I feel it belongs to a realm other than our own, and even when I feasted on meat and dairy products in my youth, eating seafood always felt a bit wrong somehow. Maybe that’s why I found faux shrimp to be too weird to eat? I just feel that we ought to leave the sea creatures to their own world. Obviously I think we should leave the land animals to their own BUSINESS, but eating shrimp and such? That’s some messed up Lovecraftian cuisine right there.

In any case, I was browsing in a Chinese supermarket near to my place of work yesterday and I picked up a very handsome selection of king oyster mushrooms. I was aware of folks using these to mimic scallops in other recipes (shout out to Forks and Beans!) so I thought I’d try it out myself.

Due to my aforementioned seafood-suspicion, I hadn’t the faintest clue how one is traditionally supposed to consume scallops. I’ve never eaten them in my life so I can’t tell you if these mimic them particularly well, but I can tell you they were ruddy tasty. Unfortunately I did use a lot of ‘butter’ so, if you want something low fat then…….soz.

I googled for a few ‘real’ scallop recipes and took some inspiration from what I found. Lemon and chilli seemed to be a popular theme, as did searing them in butter, so I took my lead from those ideas and the result was pretty darn tasty.

(Soaking the mushrooms for a couple of hours is a bit of a pain, but I suggest you don’t skip this step. I didn’t soak mine for quite long enough and a couple of the larger ‘scallops’ were a bit firm in the middle and didn’t absorb as much of the lovely flavours.)

Ingredients

  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 lemons (juiced)
  • 3 large king oyster mushrooms
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped
  • 100g ish ‘butter’ (I used Vitalite)
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (or more if you want it SUPER spicy)
  • 3 fat cloves garlic
  • splash olive oil
  • bunch of fresh parsley
  • optional: swig of white wine
  • enough spaghetti for 2

Method

Chop the king oyster mushroom stems into slices approx 1″ thick. Soak in just-boiled water (with a dash of soy sauce added if you want to add some colour – aesthetic only!) for at least 2 hours until thoroughly soft.

(If you want an even more ‘scallopy’ appearance, criss-cross one side of the mushrooms pieces with a knife before cooking.)

In a food processor, thoroughly blend together the vegan butter, chilli flakes, garlic, olive oil, half of the lemon juice and around half of the parsley.

In a non-stick pan, while you are heating up some salted water for the pasta, fry up the leek and broccoli in a generous dollop of the butter mixture over a medium heat.

When the greens are softened and the water is beginning to boil, remove the broccoli (and any big chunks of leek) from the non-stick pan and put it to one side. Add a little more of the butter mixture to the pan if necessary. Put the spaghetti into the salted water to cook.

Turn up the heat and put the mushroom pieces to the non-stick pan. Add a splash of white wine (if using) and more of the lemon juice. When one side is nicely seared, turn over. Add a splash more white wine and/or lemon if you like.

When the pasta is nearly cooked and the mushroom pieces are browning nicely, throw the broccoli/leek back into the pan and add the rest of the parsley. Add a little salt and pepper to taste at this point, too.

When ready to serve, drain the pasta and put the ‘scallops’ to one side so you can toss the cooked spaghetti in some of the lovely buttery, lemony sauce.

Serve the spaghetti with the ‘scallops’ on top.

The mushrooms really soaked up the flavours here; as above, I have no idea if these resemble real scallops at all, but they were super tasty!

If any of you ate scallops once upon a time, please do give this a go and let us know if it does a good job of pretending!

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