Today I'm sharing a behind the scenes look into local mushroom farm, River City Shiitake, plus the recipe for my favorite Mongolian Shiitake Mushroom Bowls.
Mongolian Shiitake Mushroom Bowls
It's been a pretty magical Fall here in the PNW and the lack of rain has me feeling all kinds of adventurous in the kitchen. Cue these Mongolian Shiitake Mushroom Bowls!
This recipe is inspired by the *most popular* recipe on my site, Orange Cauliflower (like Orange Chicken, but better). It's another vegan spin on the popular Chinese dish, Mongolian Beef. I got the idea of swapping shiitake mushrooms for beef in Bosh TV's Sticky Shiitake Mushroom recipe.
Because what better ingredient to replace beef with than shiitakes?
Shiitakes have that chewy density and texture that satisfies any meat craving without as much work, mess, or ecological footprint.
Today, I'm honored to be partnering with New Seasons Market, taking you directly to the source, to find some of Portland's best locally grown mushrooms at River City Shiitake.
Touring River City Shiitake Mushroom Farm
Upon arrival at River City Shiitake I met owner, Mary. Mary and her 4 employees run this local operation and sell 90% of their product to New Seasons.
The farm focuses primarily on Shiitake mushrooms but also has been experimenting with Maitake mushrooms.
Mary shared so many interesting facts about the science and steps behind the growth process.
Here are a few compelling notes I jotted down to share with you:
- the process starts in plastic bags with a mix of oak sawdust and grains
- this mixture eventually forms bricks that the mushrooms are able to grow out of
- the entire growth process takes about 16 weeks from start to finish
- this variety of Shiitake mushrooms have a unique thicker, meatier, and darker quality than most
- River City Shiitake is one of few farms still growing this variety because of how challenging they are to cultivate
At one point in the tour we were led into one of the grow rooms that was surprisingly warm compared to the brisk Autumn day. When I asked Mary if the room was heated, she informed us that the mushrooms brought the room to a warm 70 degrees all on their own.
These living organisms are truly fascinating. I walked away with a real appreciation for the hard work and time that goes into growing every single mushroom.
If you are ever presented with the opportunity to take a farm tour, do it!
Are Mushrooms Gluten Free?
It's not every day that you get to go directly to the source where your food is grown. As someone living with food allergies, this opportunity was even more educational.
In touring River City Shiitake, I learned that many varieties of mushrooms are grown with a mixture of oat sawdust, millet, and wheat germ.
As someone with a wheat allergy, I was surprised to hear this. I had honestly never taken the time to ask "what are mushrooms grown in?" at the grocery store. In fact, it led me to ask myself several questions about the process behind other ingredients that I cook with.
Further research informed me that many of the animal products I consume are fed soy and wheat products. This is an interesting layer of living with allergies that isn't discussed as often, and there isn't a lot of available information on.
So are mushrooms really gluten free?
While they technically do not directly contain gluten, many varieties are grown in some amount of wheat germ. Some individuals who are gluten intolerant / living with wheat allergies are able to consume them just fine. Others notice a sensitivity or reaction.
Be Your Own Best Advocate
This reality of living with allergies is one of many reasons why I am proud to partner with New Seasons Market. Not only do they support locally owned farmers, they are able to answer questions about their produce that your average grocery store probably wouldn't. They are in touch with their growers, farmers, and the process behind the items they carry.
If you have food allergies, you already know the importance of being your own best advocate.
You have to be willing to ask questions and do the research so that you can make the best educated decision for your body. Stores like New Seasons Market that care about both customers and suppliers make this task easier.
Luckily, despite my allergies, I am able to eat mushrooms and meat products without having a reaction, regardless of where they are grown or fed.
That said, as always, it's important for you to do the research and make an informed decision about what is best for you and your allergies.
This recipe does not contain the following allergens (read more about this on my disclosure page):
Click on the Allergen Icons above to find more allergy friendly recipes like this one.