Okay, I admit that vegetarian minced pork sounds a lot like an oxymoron or fib. But believe me when I say IT IS GOOD with no fake or soy meats in sight. Made with the currently in-season saffron milkcaps (red pines), it’s a meaty mushroom rendition of one of my favourite Chinese dishes.
At the end of the week before last I felt like I had my hand in too many pies all at once. I was shooting the very last bits and bobs for the book, making last minute travel arrangements for Mum who is visiting us for a few weeks, proofing The Wholesome Cook book and looking after so many different little day-to-day tasks that once piled on top of each other they’d surely tower over Mt Kilimanjaro.
Luckily, Matt who is a skilled manager of tasks, people and time, helped me prioritise my list and get all of the jobs done on time. And Mum’s visit was perfectly timed for what passionate cooks do – spending quality time in the kitchen: making and delivering 462 single-serve Rocher Bites from The Wholesome Cook book to my publisher’s offices in time for a trade show in Melbourne. We had three generations of cooks up very late that particular night. Chatting, reminiscing and, to varying degrees, covered in chocolate. It was a great night of bonding which will be etched in our memories for a long time to come.
We try to eat vegetarian 2-3 times a week. Since Mum is mostly vegetarian – sometimes pescetarian, I’ve been making sure that our dinnertime meals can be quickly vegetarianised to best suit my Mum’s body without compromising on the boys’ more carnivorous appetites on the 4-5 nights a week that we consume meat. HOWEVER, the task might seem hard when your only craving is for Minced Pork and Beans, but it needn’t be so.
With saffron milkcaps (also known as red pine mushrooms) in season, it was a matter of a simple swap. Amazing how sometimes things just work out. These are indiscriminately vegetarian and vegan-approved.
Vegetarian "Minced Pork" and Beans
For the Vegetarian "Minced Pork":
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small brown onion peeled and diced finely
- 100 g medium saffron milkcap (red pine) mushrooms, diced
- 3 tablespoons tamari
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon shiro miso paste
- 1 tablespoon tapioca flour
- pinch goodchilli powder
- pinch goodChinese five spice powder
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
For the Beans:
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 10 dried Sichuan chillies
- 450 g bunches snake beans stalk ends trimmed, cut into 1pieces
- 1/2 bunch Chinese broccoli chopped roughly, Gai Lan
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- steamed rice if you like
- Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat and add onion and mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft and onion translucent. Drizzle with tamari, reduce heat to low and cook for a further minute.
- Meanwhile, mix together the water, miso paste, tapioca, spices and sesame oil. Pour the mixture into the mushrooms and stir for the sauce to thicken. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Wipe the pan clean and heat sesame oil over high heat. Add chillies and cook for a minute before adding the beans. Stir-fry the beans for 3 minutes or until lightly cooked and wilted. Add chopped Chinese broccoli and stir to heat through.
- Transfer beans to a serving plate and top with the vegetarian "pork" mushroom mixture.
- Lefovers can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days and reheated in a pan as needed.