Bit by the Lion’s Mane craze: Does it taste like lobster?

Ryan Nix | Photo Courtesy
The mushroom (on the left) looks out of this world in its raw form.

The Red River Farmers Market supplied just the right Sunday afternoon taste adventure.

Making your own fun on a Saturday can be as easy as waiting for your girlfriend Katherine Ziebol, a biology major, to show up with something strange from the Red River Farmers Market. A mushroom that’s supposed to taste like lobster? Sounds about right. 

This vegan replacement is called “Lion’s Mane” even though it does not resemble a Lion’s Mane what-so-ever. It looks more like a small DS dog, or a club penguin “Puffle.”

Ryan Nix | Photo Courtesy
Butter really enhances this dish, I would not recommend oil.

“We” made two iterations of the dish. The first was a pan-fried steak option where we simply cut a chunk of the mushroom, let it sit in a medium heated pan to sweat its moisture, then seared in butter till golden brown.

The mushroom shrinks a lot in the process because it’s 90 or so percent water according to Zeibol.

I was still skeptical about seafood replacement until I got my first taste, I knew other types of mushrooms can act as a protein substitute but come on, seafood? That just seems impossible.

I was really wrong. The mouthfeel was slightly different from lobster, and anyone could immediately guess that they were being “punked” by fungi but it did taste like lobster a weird amount. It defiantly didn’t taste like a mushroom but still had the texture of one.

The great thing about the mushroom was that, like a good veggie burger, it didn’t have to perfectly impersonate seafood in order to be good.

The second, and more involved option, we made was “Crab Cakes.” This involves chopping the mushroom along with peppers, garlic and any other vegetables you may have. Then mixing your ingredients in a shallow pan with cayenne, parsley and a bit of salt and pepper. After the mushrooms have dried a bit and the garlic is smelling all “garlic-y,” form balls out of the ingredients and pan fry in butter until golden brown.

This was the winner, I really think it could dupe even the most fervent seafood eater. The extra ingredients and spices really seep into the mushroom well and if you dry the mushroom just right the moisture from the peppers and garlic really soaks in.

Ryan Nix | Photo Courtesy
If we were to do this again we would just make crab cakes.

Based on flavor alone, I know that this mushroom has plenty of potential. Maybe not as a stand-alone protein substitute but defiantly a good mix in. 

While cooking with the mushrooms we learned that some of the integrity comes from its moisture. Keeping some of the moisture while not completely soaking your pallet is probably the hardest thing about cooking with Lion’s Main.

I thought I would have to try to convince myself that the high price tag of the mushroom is worth it compared to regular old shellfish but it really is good as a stand-alone option. If you are allergic to seafood like my girlfriend it’s almost perfect. 

I won’t get into all of the medical benefits that could be real or not, but there is some good evidence in rats that show it could slow neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. You can do that research by yourself.

Leave a Reply