Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
1:00 AM 24th February 2024

Top Tips For Using Mushrooms As A Meat Alternative

image supplied by Green Chef
image supplied by Green Chef
With plant-based diets continuing to grow, people are turning to the simplicity of using mushrooms as an alternative over replacements that try to imitate meat.

As of January 2024, a report by Finder indicates that 16% of the UK population, equivalent to 8.6 million people, are currently following a meat-free diet. The report also found that an additional 6.4 million Brits plan on adopting a meat-free diet this year.

Anna Tebbs, Registered Nutritionist at recipe box delivery service, Green Chef, expresses:
“While some alternatives strive to mimic meat through processed formulations, mushrooms present a natural option that is rich in protein, fibre, and essential nutrients.

"Alongside mushrooms, legumes, tofu, and tempeh also provide nutritious alternatives, each with its own merits. However, mushrooms stand out for their versatility, ability to absorb flavours, and the ease with which they can replicate a similar texture and meaty taste without as much processing compared to other alternatives.”

Choosing the right mushrooms for specific dishes can be challenging. To help with this, Anna has provided a comprehensive guide on embracing mushrooms as a meat replacement:

Portobello Mushrooms

It can be tricky to get the balance right when cooking veggie burgers, but with portobello mushrooms, there's no need to imitate meat— their natural flavour and texture speak for themselves.

These large, and filling mushrooms are the perfect burger substitute due to their size and texture. They can be grilled, roasted, or sautéed and used as a burger patty or served as an alternative to steak. Portobello mushrooms also work well stuffed with various fillings like cheese, breadcrumbs, and herbs.

Portobello mushrooms are not only a tasty option but also rich in nutrients like potassium and B vitamins. Score the caps, marinate in balsamic vinegar and soy sauce, then grill until caramelised for a juicy, flavourful burger substitute.

Shiitake Mushrooms

For those craving that umami-packed punch in their dishes, shiitake mushrooms have a rich, earthy flavour and a meaty texture that works well as a meat replacement. Shiitake mushrooms are a fantastic source of protein and fibre.

They are excellent in stir-fries, soups, and stews, where their robust flavour can shine. If you’re not feeling umami, sliced shiitake mushrooms can also be used in place of meat in dishes like pasta sauces, risottos, and grain bowls.

Sauté until golden brown, and add umami boosters like soy sauce or miso paste which enhance the nutty, savoury flavour. Alternatively, for a risotto, try seasoning shiitake mushrooms with garlic, thyme, and a splash of white wine.

Oyster Mushrooms

For those longing for a light yet satisfying meat replacement, oyster mushrooms might be the answer!

Oyster mushrooms are tender and have a mild, slightly sweet flavour. They work well in dishes where a lighter mushroom flavour is desired, such as creamy pasta dishes, risottos, fresh salads and light soups. Oyster mushrooms can also be breaded and fried to make a crispy alternative to chicken nuggets or used in tacos and wraps.

Oyster mushrooms are low in calories and packed with antioxidants.

For a veggie twist that is reminiscent of barbecued meat, tear them into ‘shreds’, fry until crispy, and season with smoked paprika for a crunchy and smoky flavour.

Cremini Mushrooms

Also known as baby bella mushrooms, cremini mushrooms have a firmer texture and a deeper flavour compared to white button mushrooms.

They are versatile and can be used in a wide range of dishes, including vegetarian chilli, lasagne, stuffed peppers, and tacos. Cremini mushrooms can also be grilled or roasted as a side dish or served on pizza or in pasta dishes.

Cremini mushrooms are great for adding depth to your dishes. Brown before adding to dishes, infuse with meaty herbs like thyme or rosemary, and use in hearty recipes such as stews or casseroles for rich, meat-like texture and flavour.

King Oyster Mushrooms

King oyster mushrooms have a firm, meaty texture and a mild, slightly nutty flavour. King oyster mushrooms are rich in antioxidants and may help lower cholesterol levels. They're also incredibly versatile and can stand in for meat in various dishes.

They are often sliced and used as a meat substitute in stir-fries, curries, and noodle dishes. King oyster mushrooms can also be grilled, roasted, or braised whole or sliced and used as a topping for pizza or salads.

Slice thickly, braise in a rich vegetable broth or a flavourful wine-infused marinade, and finish with a splash of vinegar for a tender, juicy texture and complex, meaty flavour perfect for stews or as a replacement for scallops.

For more recipe inspiration on meat-free dishes, visit Green Chef.