The Most Underrated Vegan Ingredient, According To Pinky Cole - Exclusive

Don't underestimate vegan ingredients — oftentimes, you can make them just as tasty as any other non-plant-based food (whether it's jackfruit in place of meat or some dairy-free butter). In this case, Slutty Vegan CEO Pinky Cole claims mushrooms are at the top of her grocery list. During an exclusive interview with Mashed, Pinky Cole explained that king oyster mushrooms and maitake mushrooms are currently some of the most underrated vegan ingredients.

The entrepreneur, recently named on the Create & Cultivate 100 List, built her empire based on plant-based burgers, using meat alternative brands like Beyond Meat and Impossible meat. Cole has recently grown an affinity for mushrooms, especially marinated mushrooms, since the ingredient is very versatile and promotes creativity in the kitchen. "I normally like sautéed mushrooms, and I've been playing with a mushroom sandwich," the businesswoman explained. So what makes king oyster mushrooms and maitake mushrooms so special? Cole claims they are "the new tofu."

Mushrooms should get more attention

As a currently raw vegan — meaning a person who eats only plant-based, raw, and unprocessed foods — Pinky Cole has been loving cooking with king oyster and maitake mushrooms. "I came up with this idea to do a [restaurant] concept called 'Shroom' because I love mushrooms that much," the restaurateur told Mashed. "Mushrooms are the best replacement, in my humble opinion, [for] meat-based items because you can get the same effect," she added.

King oyster mushrooms have a neutral flavor but provide a meat-like texture when they are cooked. The vegetable is extremely versatile, with some cooking methods being grilled, broiled, and braised. On other hand, maitake mushrooms have more of a robust and earthy flavor, used in stir-fry, salad, pasta, omelets, and more. Cole recommends that after you grab king oyster mushrooms, "slice it up scallop style, and put some vegan butter on it, some capers, some salt and pepper, and a little oil-based seasoning, and it is the best mock scallop you've ever had in your life." We are going to take her word for it.

Learn more about the 2023 Create & Cultivate 100 List, or head to Slutty Vegan's website to check out its offerings. Keep up with Pinky Cole's latest projects on her Instagram page.