Once a year, we put together a several course luncheon. As part of the luncheon, we like to serve a small appetizer, but not just an appetizer; we try to make it somehow different than you might expect. For example, one year we served deviled eggs on toast. Only the toasts were tiny and we used quail eggs so we’d have a miniature version. Right now, we’re thinking of making bacon-wrapped scallops, but not made with either bacon or scallops. For the scallops, we’re thinking of using rounds cut from King Oyster mushrooms, and, perhaps, the bacon made from carrots, as in the Crispy Smoky Salty Carrot Strips we recently made. If they turn out as we picture them, they should look like bacon-wrapped scallops, to fool the eye and make it fun. Naturally, we have to test these beforehand, and, while we tested the bacon, we haven’t tested the scallops until now.
We tried two different recipes we found on the Internet; the one we present here is a modification of one we found on Say Mmm. While we didn’t follow the original recipe exactly, we did like the way ours turned out. From testing two recipes, we also learned a preparation secret for the King Oyster mushrooms that we’ve not seen elsewhere, but, then we haven’t searched extensively; we have too much scratchin’ to do.
Maple syrup is the 100% pure kind. We know it’s expensive, but it’s the best. We generally choose a Grade B maple syrup — syrup is graded by color, not flavor or quality — which is darker and often more flavorful. Tamari sauce is soy sauce — real soy sauce, not the caramel-colored salt water sold by some better known brands. We happen to like San-J Brand Tamari sauce, but use what you like. King Oyster mushrooms can be found in ethnic markets in the produce section.
Procedure in detail:
Make marinade. Find a shallow wide dish that will hold the mushrooms slices when they lie flat on the bottom, then simply stir together the maple syrup, tamari sauce, and whatever pepper amount you like. We actually forgot to add pepper, so we know you can even make these pepperless.
Prepare mushrooms. Pay attention, because this is the key to making these mushrooms seem like something they’re not. Wash the mushrooms, cut off the small caps and any root. Now, peel the mushrooms. This is very important, because the skin near the root is tough and chewy. If you don’t peel them, you’ll bite into a piece and it’ll have a weird chewy texture on the edge, but be fine inside, which is rather disconcerting. All those mushroom scraps are perfect to cook along with other vegetable scraps to make vegetable stock. Finally, slice the mushrooms into disks about 1/2 inch thick.
Marinade. Set each disk in the marinade, flat side down. Let stand in the refrigerator for about an hour, flipping the pieces about halfway. You’ll see that the marinade is soaking into the mushrooms adding flavor.
Fry. Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add mushrooms, flat side down, and fry for about 4-5 minutes on each side. Near the end, spoon in about a tablespoon of the leftover marinade. Right before serving, add the lemon juice and toss to coat.
These are not scallops. They don’t taste like scallops. But, they do look somewhat like scallops and they taste good, which is what we’re looking for. They have a nice texture, and the maple and tamari makes them very savory. While we ate them plain, sort of as an appetizer, we think these would be great in a larger main dish, too. Four stars.