If you're looking for an impressive vegan dish to serve to guests, you need to try our recipe for vegan "scallops": king oyster mushrooms stand in for seafood for an amazing look-alike dish. We also have several tips for giving that fresh-from-the-ocean flavor to these seafood-free scallops.
Watch our IGTV series, Veganize It, to see how to make this dish and more vegan versions of your favorite dishes.
To make vegan scallops, cut the stems of oyster mushrooms into 1-inch thick pieces. We use just the stems here because their shape tricks your eye into thinking you're eating scallops (reserve the caps for another use, such as making mushroom stock). Using a sharp paring knife, cut a cross-hatch pattern onto both sides of the mushrooms. This will help the marinade permeate into the mushrooms, plus it helps the mushrooms look even more like scallops when they're cooked.
Related: Healthy Mushroom Soup Recipes
To give the mushrooms a hint of the sea, our vegan scallops are soaked in a marinade that includes dulse seaweed (for that fishy flavor) combined with miso, tamari, maple syrup and vegan Worcestershire sauce, which all boost the umami in the finished dish. Be sure to buy vegan Worcestershire, as regular Worcestershire contains anchovies. Cook the scallops gently in the marinade for 30 minutes, then let them stand (off the heat) for about an hour—this will allow the flavor to really soak into the mushrooms.
Before cooking the mushroom scallops, pat them dry well with paper towels. Drying the mushrooms helps prevent splatter during cooking, and also helps them to brown.
Before adding the scallops to the pan, make sure it's nice and hot—you want to hear it sizzle. A hot pan will keep the scallops from sticking and will also help boost the browning and caramelization.
Once your scallops are well browned, they're ready to serve! Don't forget that the marinade doubles as a sauce. I like to plate them along with a simple side, such as sautéed bok choy with ginger and garlic.
Related: Healthy Vegan Recipes
For a look at the environmental impact of swapping a traditional scallop recipe for a vegan version, we turned to Dustin Harder, aka the Vegan Roadie (@theveganroadie). "Scallops, like other mollusks, actually help filter oceans by absorbing excess nutrients in the water," Harder explains, so unlike some animal products, scallops can actually benefit the environment. But mushrooms are no slouches either. "Not only do oyster mushrooms make a super-amazing vegan swap on your plate for scallops, but they can help the environment too," he says. Through a process called mycoremediation, enzymes in mushrooms help clean up waste in the environment by breaking down pollutants.
King oyster mushrooms are a delicacy, which means they aren't cheap. Six king oyster mushrooms cost about $15; a pound of sea scallops generally costs between $12 and $18. So you're looking at about the same cost for either version of the dish.
In terms, of nutrition, you'll get more fiber if you go with vegan scallops—they deliver 5 grams per serving, while regular scallops have 0 grams. You'll also save around 70 calories per serving making the vegan version. And while you'll only get half the protein of regular scallops, our mushroom scallops still deliver 7 grams of plant protein.
Pictured recipe: Vegan Scallops
Even if you enjoy regular scallops, vegan scallops are a tasty and stunning alternative to add to your repertoire. Check back in with Veganize It soon—we'll be rolling out a new vegan version of a favorite dish every week on IGTV.
Culinary nutritionist and EatingWell Test Kitchen manager Breana Killeen is a Le Cordon Bleu–trained cook, dietitian and sommelier who loves dogs, classic cars and a cool glass of rosé.