Yo quiero oyster mushrooms

May 02 2016 | 11:58 AM

Five years ago as I made final edits to the first Palate, I wondered if Dirt readers would embrace vegan recipes from a home cook. Would they take a chance on making cream from cashew nuts, chips from kale or ketchup from beets? It’s gratifying when I hear your stories – making a frittata with chickpea flour, joining a CSA or discovering that a plant-based diet goes beyond salad, pancakes or spaghetti.

My first recipe was a quinoa risotto with asparagus and shiitake mushrooms, at the time one of just three fungi in my repertoire. Since then, my husband Tom and I have begun foraging for edible mushrooms (always consult a mycologist with your finds – your liver will thank you) and have discovered varieties we never knew existed. Five years and 30 recipes later, it seems fitting that I revisit the mushroom, this time with a new recipe: oyster mushroom tacos.

Many tacos are one-note; the sauce too spicy or filling lacking texture. One taco I’ve tried surpassed the rest – a pulled jackfruit taco from the Garden Grill, a compassionate food crafter at a farmers’ market in Las Vegas. These were filled with shredded jackfruit, a large tropical fruit grown in Southeast Asia, often used as a meat substitute. Oyster mushrooms have a similar chewy texture and need just a pinch of cumin to add smokiness to their earthy rich flavor. A tangy bed of shredded red and green cabbage, some pickled onions and poblano cream give these tacos crunch and layers of flavor. There’s a debate whether soft tacos taste best with flour or corn tortillas. I prefer corn, but either way, attempt the homemade version, even if like me you don’t have a tortilla press.

Oyster mushroom tacos Filling 2 tablespoons safflower or other mild tasting oil

1 small onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, chopped

12 ounces oyster mushrooms, hand shredded

1 teaspoon cumin Salt & pepper 6 corn tortillas, warmed

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic and mushrooms and sauté until browned, 8 – 10 minutes. Do not overcook. Add cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Cook an additional minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

Slaw 1 cup shredded green cabbage

1 cup shredded red cabbage 1 tablespoon lime juice

1 teaspoon safflower oil Pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Pickled onions 1 red onion thinly sliced

¼ cup apple cider vinegar ½ teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon sea salt Blanch onions in boiling water for 1 minute to soften.

In a medium bowl combine ½ cup warm water, vinegar, sugar and salt. Add onions and let stand at room temperature for one hour. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat.

Poblano cream ½ cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked in cold water for two hours and rinsed

1 poblano pepper, roasted and seeds removed

1 tablespoon lime juice 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Place cashews in a blender and cover with cold water slightly above top of nuts. Blend on high until creamy. If mixture is too thick, add water a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency. Chop the poblano and add to the cream along with the lime juice and cilantro. Blend well.

Fill each tortilla with ¼ cup of slaw, mushroom filling, pickled onions and poblano cream. Garnish with cilantro.