Three Japanese mushroom recipes from The Aubrey

 From squidgy sandos to crisp gyoza, these three vegan mushroom recipes from The Aubrey guarantee umami goodness by the bucket-load

You don't have to know many vegan friends to gauge the half-baked spirit of plant-based dining out. Its various permutations of stodgy risottos, drab veg stir-fries, and peppers stuffed with couscous and defeat that guarantee half the flavour and double the disappointment.

So, when a restaurant has an enticing vegan offering, or even better, an innovative vegan tasting menu, it's something to get excited about. Last January, Knightsbridge-based Japanese restaurant The Aubrey did just that, putting on a mushroom menu to celebrate the month of Veganuary. Making a nine-course menu centred around one ingredient both varied and delicious is no mean feat, and whether a devoted vegan or raging carnivore, you can't help but revel in the creativity of such a venture.

Mushrooms are a staple at the Japanese table, forming a cornerstone of its national cuisine. Called kinoko in Japanese, a word derived from the fungus' tendency to grow around trees (ki), Japan's humid climate supports upwards of 5,000 different mushroom varieties, of which some 100 are edible. From the dependable shiitake thrown into stews to the tasselled enoki crisped up into a tempura with a thousand extending limbs – the uses of mushrooms in the Japanese kitchen knows no bounds.

The bad news is that Veganuary is no more, and neither is the mushroom menu at The Aubrey – but we've got three recipes from it that you can rustle up at home. From squidgy shokupan mushroom sandos to crisp gyozas and mushroom dashi – these recipes promise a fungi fiesta like no other.

Crispy tofu with mushroom dashi

A soothing bowl of savoury warmth, this Japanese mushroom broth topped with crisp tofu is a winter staple

Serves 1

Preparation time 10 minutes

Cooking time 40 minutes

Want to convert a tofu sceptic? This crispy tofu with mushroom dashi might just be your answer. 

It's the perfect contrast of soothing mushroom broth topped with crispy fried tofu that will have you slurping every last drop from the bowl. The deep umami flavour in this recipe comes from the dried shiitake, kombu, nori and shimeji – ingredients you'll be able to hunt down at your local Asian supermarket. 

Ingredients

  • 480ml water
  • 100g dried shiitake (stems discarded)
  • 1 small kombu kelp sheet
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 cup shimeji mushrooms
  • 100g tofu, cut into cubes
  • Nori
  • Grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • Cornflour

Method

  1. Bring the water to the boil, add the kombu and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Remove the kombu and add the shiitake, simmering for a further 10-15 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, coat the tofu in a light dusting of the cornflour and deep fry in a hot pan of oil until golden and crispy.
  4. Heat a wok on high and stir fry the shimeji mushrooms. Once cooked, toss with the tofu and transfer to a bowl.
  5. Take the stock off the heat and strain it, serve in a small jug on the table.
  6. Top the tofu and shimeji with some flakes of nori and use the dashi for dipping.

Mushroom sando

Sandwiching cremini, shiitake, chestnut and portobello mushrooms between two soft slices of Shokupan, this mushroom sando is a showstopper

Makes 1

Preparation time 35 minutes

Cooking time 45 minutes

Don't be put off by the length of this recipe, because we promise you the hard work pays off. This mushroom sando is the most satisfying morsel – a thick layer of rich mushroom filling sandwiched between two cloud-like slices of Shokupan that are covered with lashings of vegan tofu mayonnaise. Sheer poetry. 

These are the perfect nibbles to make if you've got guests coming over. Chow down on one (or four) accompanied by a crisp pint of Asahi and the giggles of friends.

Ingredients

Sandwich:

  • Thick white sliced loaf (Shokupan or brioche)
  • Half a block of butter
  • 3 portobello mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups finely chopped mixed mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, chestnut)
  • Shallots, finely chopped
  • Mixed herbs (Mitsuba (Japanese parsley) or regular parsley and sage, oregano).
  • A glass of white wine
  • 1⁄2 bag of washed spinach

Red miso dengaku:

  • 4 tbsp red miso paste
  • 2 tbsp red wine
  • 2 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp sake

Vegan tofu mayo:

  • 120g extra firm tofu
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp saikyo miso paste
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1⁄4 cup rapeseed oil
  • Pinch of salt

Method

Mushrooms:

  1. Wash and brush the portobello mushrooms, before chopping them into bite size pieces.
  2. Heat two knobs of butter with a splash of oil in a medium frying pan until it shimmers.
  3. Add the two crushed garlic cloves and cook, but taking good care not to burn them.
  4. Once cooked, add the portobello mushrooms, sautéing them until browned. Season with salt and pepper and set to one side.
  5. Heat two more knobs of butter in the same pan, add the mixed herbs, shallots, garlic, salt and pepper.
  6. Once cooked and fragrant, add the mixed chopped mushrooms and stir frequently to release and evaporate all the liquid.
  7. Once the liquid has evaporated, deglaze the pan with white wine, continue to cook the contents until browned and the liquid has all disappeared (10-15 mins).
  8. In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to boil before adding the spinach for 30 seconds, to blanche it very gently.
  9. Remove immediately and transfer to iced water, squeezing excess water from the spinach and setting it aside whilst you get on with the other components.

Red miso dengaku:

  1. In a saucepan (off the heat) whisk together all ingredients until combined and smooth.
  2. Place onto a medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer.
  3. Once the pan begins to simmer, reduce the heat to low and continue simmering for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens and becomes glossy.
  4. Season the glaze to taste with additional orange juice, sugar or wine as needed.

Vegan tofu mayo:

  1. Fill a small saucepan with water and bring to a boil, before lowering the tofu in and cook for just one minute.
  2. Remove, drain immediately and rinse with cold water to stop it from cooking any further. Then cut/break it into small bite size pieces.
  3. Add the blanched tofu along with the rest of the ingredients (excluding the rapeseed oil) to a blender, whizz on a high speed until it is completely smooth and creamy.
  4. Turn the speed down to medium and start to slowly drizzle in the oil until it comes together with the right texture - try to aim for a thick and creamy consistency.
  5. Season with extra salt and lime as needed.

Assembly:

  1. Toast two pieces of bread on both sides, brush one side with an even layer of tofu mayo and the other with the red miso.
  2. Mix the spinach with the remaining red miso and make a layer on top of one of the pieces of toast.
  3. Combine the portobello chunks with the mushroom mix and make a layer on top of the
    miso-spinach.
  4. Finish by topping with the other piece of bread and cut off the edges before segmenting into four equal squares, creating the sando look.

Mushroom gyoza and dipping sauce

Filled with three kinds of mushrooms and packed with texture, these mushroom gyoza are the perfect start to any feast

Makes 5-6

Preparation time 15 minutes

Cooking time 15 minutes

We'd argue there are few better mouthfuls than a crisp gyoza dredged through dipping sauce. What's not to love about a fried dumpling wrapper jacketing a piping-hot pocket of savoury mushroom goodness? 

Although they might seem tricky, making gyoza from scratch is far easier than it seems – the tricky is not to be overzealous with filling so you don't have issues sealing the wrappers. 

They're perfect to make in batches, stash away in the freezer and pan-fry on a rainy day when you need a pick-me-up.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups finely chopped mixed mushrooms (shiitake, king oyster, enoki and shimeji work well)
  • 1 small leek, finely chopped
  • 1 cm slice of ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 block of tofu
  • A pack of gyoza skins
  • Glass of white wine
  • 60ml soy sauce
  • 30ml rice vinegar
  • 6ml Shichimi Togarashi chilli powder (or a pinch of red pepper flakes)
  • 6ml sesame oil

Method

  1. Melt two knobs of butter to a pan over medium heat before adding the leeks, ginger and garlic, cooking them until softened. Then add the chopped mushrooms.
  2. Once steaming, add salt and pepper, sauté until the mushrooms have released their liquid.
  3. Add the tofu and deglaze the pan with white wine, continuing to cook the mixture until it’s all properly incorporated and the tofu has broken down.
  4. In the meantime, make the dipping sauce by combining the soy, vinegar, chilli powder and sesame oil, whisking the ingredients together before setting aside.
  5. Once the mushroom mix has cooled slightly, place a teaspoon in the middle of each gyoza skin.
  6. Using your finger, brush one of the edges of the skin with a small amount of water and fold/seal the edges with a crimping method to make a little triangular parcel. Continue doing this until all
    your skins are filled with mix.
  7. Pan fry the gyoza until golden brown and crispy - serve with the dipping sauce.

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