Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco is like a Disneyland for Vegans. You can dream and fantasize about your wildest dish here and shop for ingredients that inspire the plant-based palate. My first destination is always running to the fresh mushrooms in this store, in hopes that the cast from Alice And Wonderland will pop out and offer me the craziest shrooms alive. Then I stumbled upon a fresh batch of morels and nearly fainted. I don’t think most folks realize how crazy Morel mushrooms are. To me, they are the “ribeye” cut of the plant world and coming from a man who’d cook a ribeye at least once a week (when I wasn’t Vegan), these damn mushrooms are heaven sent.
The next stop was the bread isle. I know I needed a really good toast to lay these morels down and a loaf from Josey Baker Bread caught my eye. As I sliced through the bread, I immediately knew I had grabbed the perfect bread for the job.
I began thinking about creating a Japanese inspired dish around the idea that Morels are like Wagyu, and if seared right…with lemon zest, sea salt, and some nori, this dream can become a reality. It also hit me that I had some shiso leaves that I could use to cut all the richness of these mushrooms. And that’s when the Mad Hatter jumped out and said, “you out yo damn mind.” If you haven’t had shiso leaves, you’ll want to go out and try this herb. While it’s not for everyone, the freshness and uniqueness of it, is underutilized in this world. You can typically get these at any Japanese supermarket, or larger asian market. Here in SF, you can find Shiso at May Wah or Sunset Super.
So, let’s begin with the sauce for this dish. Grab yourself a good spoonful of vegan mayo and combine it with some tamari and sesame seed oil. You’ll also want to squeeze in some lemon juice to give it acidity. We’ll use this sauce to lay down on the toast, and also to top off the mushrooms.
Next, we’ll start with a dry pan over medium heat to toss on the mushrooms. Morels give off lots of moisture, and when you start to see them sear in their own juices, throw in some vegan butter (Miyoko’s) and start basting the morels like they were drinking Gatorade at a championship game. They will shrink down about 50% in size while you give them a nice browning. I like to add in some garlic at the very end, about 4 minutes into it so the garlic doesn’t burn and get better, then sprinkle with salt to finish them off.Once you set the morels aside, give your undivided attention to making your grilled toast. I always think I can do two things at once, but more often than not, I end up burning the shit out of the toast. So be careful and have patience! Simply brush some olive oil on them and get some grill marks on each side (about 2 min. per side).
Add a thin layer of sauce down on the bread and start the topping process! The morels should look amazingly tender right now and if you’re like me and can’t wait, just grab a few and pop them in your mouth for “Taste testing.”
Sprinkle shiso leaves down with green onion and shredded nori and you’re about 10 seconds away from experiencing the plant- based afterlife – heaven.
For finishing, I like to top off with some Japanese shichimi pepper, some more sauce and lemon zest. You may be thinking, “this is a lot of steps for some toast,” but I promise you that this will be worth your time. The only thing you’ll be asking yourself after all of this is, “Why didn’t I make more?”
Morel Shiso Toast
A rich and delightful toast that will unlock the secrets of mushrooms and make the earth stop moving with each bite.
- 3 tbsp vegan mayo
- 1 tsp tamari
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 squeezed lemon
- 1 green onion stalk
- 2 slices of sourdough bread
- 8 large morel mushrooms
- 2 tbsp vegan butter
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup shiso leaves
- 1/4 tsp S&B shichimi togarashi
- 2 tbsp shredded nori
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- Prepare Mayo Dressing: mix tamari, sesame seed oil, lemon juice, and mayonnaise together in small bowl.
- Thinly slice green onion, shiso leaves, garlic, and set aside.
- Chop large morel mushrooms into quarter sized pieces and cook with dry pan over medium heat. When mushrooms begin to sweat, add butter to pan and baste until mushrooms evenly brown. After 4 minutes, add in sliced garlic for flavoring and remove mushrooms off pan.
- Heat grill on high. Add brushed olive oiled bread to grill pan. 2-3 minutes per side should yield nice grill marks. Be careful not to burn bread.
- Once toasting is done, assemble bread by spreading initial layer of mayonnaise sauce down. Place morel mushrooms on top of toast and sprinkle shiso, green onions, nori, and Shichimi s&b red pepper seasoning. Top off with lemon zest. 6.) Drizzle 1/4 tbsp sauce over toast, cut in half, and serve!