Shiitake Leek Fritters (w/ Creamy Sesame Ginger Sauce)
There's that word again....fritter. I make a LOT of variations on this concept (grain-free, grain-based, vegan, fish-based..) and have yet to settle on a word that captures the versatile formula. Sometimes I say fritter (i.e. millet fritters), sometimes cake (i.e. salmon cakes), sometimes patty. Fritter feels the most festive, but also implies something heavily fried, while my take is usually a wee bit lighter. Anyhow, here is one of my favorite autumn spins, Shiitake Leek Fritters. This recipe also sneaks you into the VIP room where you get a bonus recipe for Botanical Kitchen's much-beloved Creamy Sesame Ginger sauce! These morsels are grain-free and vegetarian based, but I often omit the egg and incorporate cooked quinoa into the mix for a vegan/protein-rich take. There's a lot of room for play here, but the most important thing is to roast the mushrooms and leeks first, for a deep, umami flavor.
You can either pan fry or bake these fritters. Pan frying will yield that golden crispy crust, but they'll be a bit more tender. Baking is a little lighter, and they tend to hold together more easily. I love them both ways.
PS for both the fitters and the sauce, using toasted sesame oil is key for that rich, sesame flavor. You can use tamari instead of coconut aminos, but again, the flavor will be quite different (and I’m sure delicious!). I much prefer coconut aminos for its mellow, sweet, yet richly umami tones.
:: Shiitake Leek Fritters :: 1 lb shiitake mushrooms, whole (if petite) or sliced in half (you can also sub 1/2 the amount of shiitake with crimini or button mushrooms) 1 large leek, cleaned and sliced 1/3 cup avocado or melted coconut oil (or other preferred roasting oil) 2 tsp salt 2 eggs (or 1 cup cooked quinoa) 1/3 cup almond flour 1/3 cup sesame seeds 1/3 cup coconut aminos 3 tbs toasted sesame oil 3 tbs lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
Pre-heat oven to 450F
Toss mushrooms with half the roasting oil and 1 tsp salt
Arrange onto an un-lined baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes, or until beginning to crisp up and turn golden brown (see photo)
At the same time, toss the sliced leeks with oil and remaining 1 tsp salt, arrange onto baking sheet and roast until beginning to caramelize (about 15 minutes, see photo) If you plan to bake the fritters, reduce oven temp to 425F. Otherwise you can turn that baby off.
Allow to cool to room temp, then combine the mushrooms and leeks in a food processor, and pulse until chunky but not pasty (see photo).
Fold in the remaining ingredients.
If baking, scoop golf-ball sized portions onto a parchment lined baking sheet, flatten to 1 inch thick, then bake for 20-30 minutes, flipping the fritters half-way through.
To pan-fry, add 1 tbs coconut oil or avocado oil (or preferred frying oil) to a cast-iron or non-stick pan and turn heat to medium-high. When the oil sizzles from a drop of water, scoop slightly smaller than golf-ball sized portions into the pan, and flatten with a spatula. Work in small batches, and be careful not to crowd the pan, which will make browning (and flipping) more difficult.
Add more oil as needed, and when both sides are golden brown, transfer onto a plate. If you like, you can use a paper towel to absorb some of the extra oil (I don't :) )
Serve with greens and Sesame Ginger Sauce! Kimchi and seared broccolini are an extra tasty bonus
:: Creamy Sesame Ginger Sauce :: Makes two pints! Halve it if you want....but you'll want extra for the fridge, I promise 1 cup coconut aminos 1/2 cup maple syrup 1 cup extra virgin olive oil 1/2 cup toasted sesame oil 2 tbs tahini 1/3 cup lemon juice 3 cloves garlic 1 large (2 in) piece of ginger, peeled 1 tsp sea salt Place all ingredients in the blender, and blend on high until extra smooth and creamy. Store in glass jars in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.