One of the many great happinesses of mindful vegan cuisine is the amazing imagination utilized in creating dishes. I am always surprised with the cleverness used in so many plant-based recipes. Clearly, I didn't come up with the idea of vegan scallops made from king oyster mushroom stems, but they are ingenious and glorious. These plant-based scallops had had me curious for some time. So, today, as I was exploring a local Korean supermarket, I spied local organic king oyster mushrooms for $1.99--I knew the time had arrived to try these faux scallops and pair them with cavolo nero (Tuscan kale).
King oyster mushrooms, sometimes called king trumpet mushrooms, are mildly umami with a faintly buttery taste. They have overly fat stems and small caps, and I adore the mushroom’s natural comical appearance. (I have placed a head of garlic in my picture of the untrimmed mushrooms for scale.) When seared, they take on a beautifully golden hue and have a lovely, delicate melt-in-your-mouth texture. The mushrooms are able to soak up a lot of flavor from seasonings. Adding cavolo nero adds another element of texture and character to the dish. Depending on ingredients, cooking organic can sometimes add up. Luckily, organic cavolo nero is usually around $1.99 a bunch, making this organic meal very easy on the bank account.
I’ve created a Mediterranean seasoned vegan mushroom and kale one-pan meal using herbs, spices, olive oil, lemon, and not much else. These scallops and greens are simple enough to cook for just one but impressive enough to serve dinner guests. This recipe preps and cooks in 10 minutes!
1. In a small dish mix garlic powder, smoked paprika, thyme, and cayenne pepper.
2. With a damp paper towel, gently wipe off mushrooms to remove any dirt.* Trim off mushroom caps and slice mushroom stems into 1/2 inch wide medallions.** With tip of knife, score the top of each medallion with a cross hatch pattern. Toss medallions lightly with olive oil.
3. Rinse cavolo nero under cold water and pat dry. Remove the thick center spine of each leaf. Massage cavolo nero with olive oil. (You can save the spines to blend in smoothies for extra fiber.)
4. Wash and slice tomato.
5. Slice sourdough bread (if using).
6. Heat a cast iron skillet or heavy-bottom pan over medium-high heat. The pan must be hot to create a sear on the scallops and cavolo nero.
7. The skillet is hot enough when you can hold your palm over it for only a few seconds. Carefully add enough oil to coat bottom of skillet. (Be prepared for the oil to dance or spatter a bit.)
8. On one half of skillet, arrange scallop medallions. Generously sprinkle tops with dry herb and spice mix. Reserve enough seasoning mix for second side of scallops. Sear until scallops are deep golden brown. It will probably take 2-4 minutes. (Edges may become blackened.)
9. Flip scallops over to sear other side. Sprinkle with herb and spice mix.
10. At the same time you are searing the second side of scallops, add cavolo nero and tomatoes to other half of skillet. Sauté greens and tomatoes while scallops are searing.
11. When scallops are fully seared and cavolo nero is wilted and a little blackened, remove everything from skillet. In the still hot skillet, grill sourdough slices.
12. Generously drizzle scallops and cavolo nero with lemon. Taste and season with sea salt.
Serve hot with additional lemon wedges and grilled sourdough bread.
*I suggest wiping off mushrooms with damp cloth. Rinsing mushrooms under water will make them difficult to sear properly.
**The caps of the king oyster mushrooms can also be eaten. Save them for another dish or cook with medallions. I have omitted them from this recipe only because they don’t have the scallop shape.
Robin Kurotsuchi is a California native living and writing in Los Angeles. When Robin is not creating in her kitchen, she is trail running, musing on modern life, doing landscape photography and adventurously traveling. Follow Robin exploring the world on Instagram @ar_kaen.