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This week we held a #climateaction #cookalong with Daniel 'Manuel' Williams aka cashmannerscooks and plant-based chef at Eartha Cardiff.

Manuel kicked off the evening with an overview of mushrooms as an alternative to meat that can be beneficial for the planet and for us.

Fungi: good for planetary health and human health

As we are all probably aware, meat consumption is a huge contributor to climate change. Mushrooms require far less resources compared to meat production, can produce high yields in small spaces and they can be great for soil health too.

Integrating mushrooms into our diets can be nutritionally beneficial too. Mushrooms are high in protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. They also contain polysaccharides which can have an antiinfective, antitumpur and antiinflammatory effect. To intensify their medicinal effect, mushrooms need to be cooked slow and long to break down cell walls.

Fungi and protein

Our bodies require protein AKA amino acids. Proteins that we cant produce in our body’s are known as essential amino acids, so we need to find them from food sources.

Meat contains all of the amino acids we need and is known as a complete protein. Some plant proteins such as beans and lentils are known as incomplete proteins because they are often missing some essential amino acids. Interestingly when it comes to mushrooms, some research suggests that the protein build present in mushrooms do contain all of the essential amino acids we need in contrast to other plant based sources of protein.

Texture and properties

Mushrooms can make a great meat replacement because they share similar qualities to meat - mainly texture and umami flavour. Known as the 'fifth taste', umami can be known as what gives depth of flavour or savouriness to dishes. Umami is created by 3 seperate chemicals: glutamate, guanylate, and inosinate. Glutamate and guanylate are found in both meat and mushrooms.

Here are some of Manuel's favourite mushrooms...

Types of mushrooms and there uses

There are absolutely loads of different mushrooms available to us now in the UK, which is really cook and exciting if you enjoy cooking with them.


Great for mincing and using in things like bolognese, pies and anything that requires like a meat based sauce. Full of vitamin D, potassium and vitamin B6 and are a great source of anti oxidants


Portobellos share the same profile as chestnuts and there’s a reason for this, they are the same mushroom! They are just allowed to grow bigger and marketed differently. My favourite thing to do with these are roasting, marinading and bbq-ing and I think they make a good replacement for beef in sandwiches


This is my favourite mushroom! They are high in fibre, vitamin D and B6 and have a higher protein content that other mushrooms. They are really really versatile and great for replacing chicken in certain recipes. I have made fried chicken with these, shitzles, coq au vin, stews, sandwiches. you can leave them whole or shred them and they are so good because they have a lower water content to your more common mushrooms and quite a subtle flavour so you really feel that meaty texture when you eat them. You can now order them in clusters too which means they are not separated after they are harvested. This has opened up new techniques of cooking the whole cluster together and you can get great results for replacing steaks.


Shiitakes have a really unique savoury, earthy flavour which means their great to use in there dried form in broths to add great depth and umami. they have an incredibly meaty texture, and fresh they are quite delicate, I quite like leaving them as they are and using them whole or in halves. They work well in Asian dishes. They are known as a medical mushroom as they are really good for heart health and circulation. I’ve also started messing round with using rehydrated dried shiitake and blending the caps and putting them into burger mixes or sausage mixes and found they add a great texture which is reminiscent of fat in meats.

King oyster

Like oyster mushrooms they are incredibly meaty and fun to use. You can cut the stem and make scallops, you can slice the stem into sheets and make crisps or ‘bacon’ for sandwiches but i think there best use is to pull them into shreds which can be great for recreating pulled pork’

Lions mane

This is a new one to me but it could become my new favourite. They come in a big cluster of Pom poms and work amazingly well for searing in a pan to recreate large cuts of meat. the way you cook them is by searing them in a pan and then using a weight, like another pan to press them. This allows each side to get a real nice brown sear and the hair like parts to them compress, which create a really interesting texture that’s really reminiscent of a tender steak. They’re another medical mushroom and you find them a lot on tea blends as they are really good for cognition and memory.

Manuel's cookalong recipe

This is Manuel's recipe we followed for the cookalong, inspired by Mexican barbacoa, which traditionally is made from lamb.

Flour tortilla, spiced chipotle sauce, mushroom and walnuts with a garnish of leaves, carrot and pink pickled onion

(Makes enough for 2 people or 4x filled tortillas)

Tortilla (makes 8 medium size tortillas)

225g flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2tsp salt

30g butter

60ml water

60ml soya milk

Weigh out and measure ingredients.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt, mix together.

Add butter and incorporate with your hands until you have a crumbly mixture, this should take a few minutes.

• Add the milk and water and mix until completely incorporated, the mixture should feel like play-dough.

Transfer to a lightly flowered surface and kneed until smooth, this should take 2-3 minutes.

Portion and roll into balls about the size of a ping pong ball and place on a lightly floured tray. Cover with a cloth and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.

• Heat a frying pan on a medium/high heat.

• Lightly flour your surface and roll each ball out as thin as possible.

• Place the tortilla on the hot pan and cook for one minuet. Flip using a spatula and cook for on more minuet. Flip again and continue cooking until there are light brow spots each side.

Transfer to a plate and cover with a tea towel whilst you cook the remaining tortillas.

Pink Onions (makes a lot and will keep for 1 month in a sealed container)

1 medium red onion

125 ml cider vinegar

125 ml water

1 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

• Mix vinegar, water, sugar and salt.

• Slice onions and place in a tub or jar then cover with vinegar.

Carrot, lime and salad leaves

Wash salad leave and ribbon carrot with a peeler, slice lime and squeeze over finished dish.

Spiced Chipotle sauce (makes enough for 500 -750g of mushrooms,

(leftovers will freeze well)

Half a white onion (about 55g)

2 cloves of garlic

A pinch of clove

A pinch of all spice

1 tsp chipotle flakes

1 tsp marjoram

1 tsp oregano

Half a tin of plum tomatoes

150ml water

1 tsp salt

• Dice onions, garlic and weigh out ingredients.

• Add some oil to a sauce pot and heat on a medium heat. Add onions and cook for 4-5 mins until softened.

• Add garlic and cook for a further minute.

• Add spices and mix.

• Add tomatoes and then water.

• Bring to boil cook out for 20-30mins.

• Blend + season.

Mushroom and walnuts (makes enough for 4 small tortillas)

250g chestnut mushrooom

30g toasted walnut

3tbsp sunflower oil

Half an onion (about 55 grams)

2 garlic

1tbsp fresh thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp miso

1/2 tsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

100ml water

salt (to taste)

• Preheat oven at 190.

• Finely dice onion and measure out all of your ingredients.

• Put the walnuts on a baking tray and bake for 5-10 mins, checking at 5 minutes. When you notice a change in colour, pull them out of the oven.

• Check the mushrooms for any visible dirt and remove if needed. Into a large bowl begin crumbling the mushrooms with your hands. Add a pinch of salt and continue to do this until you have a rough mince like texture.

• Now the walnuts should have cooled using a pestle and mortar grind them down to a crumb.

• Heat a large frying pan on a medium heat. Add sunflower oil and then the mushrooms and add a pinch of salt.

• Leave them for 5-6 mins. The water will release and cook off in this time. Do now stir them.

• Once the water has cooked off give them a stir and leave for another one or 2 mins, they now should have started to brown.

• Lower the heat to medium low.

• Add in the onions and mix. Cook for 2-3 mins allowing the onions to soften

• Mix in the remaining ingredients, walnuts besides the 150ml of water, scraping the bottom of the pan if needed.

• Add the water and cook until it has evaporated. Remove from heat.

To serve :

To serve, mix a few spoons of the chipotle sauce through the mushroom mix just enough to dress it, reserve left over sauce for later use. Spoon the mix over a tortilla and top with salad leaves ribboned carrots and onions. Use some of the vinegar brine from the onions to dress the leaves and finish with lime juice.


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