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Tacos make just about everything better, am I right? Show me a person who doesn’t like tacos and I’ll check for a charging plug: to be human is to love tacos.
While I delight in vegetarian tacos, my boyfriend is a staunch carnivore. And that’s ok! I try to remain a realist here on Compost and Cava, and here’s a dose of reality:
There is exactly a zero percent chance that anyone is going to convince the entire world to go vegan.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about how you can happily tuck into some meat-filled tacos AND lessen your environmental impact AND do something positive for your health.
As I mentioned in my Blended Beef and Oyster Mushroom Burger with Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onions recipe, blending ground meat with mushrooms is a serious win.
So it’s beef mixed with ground mushrooms, but why are these Spicy Beef and Shiitake Bahn Mi Tacos a more eco-friendly meal?
According to Mushroom Council representative who attended last spring’s Blended Burger launch, producing one pound of mushrooms requires:
1.8 gallons of water (versus beef at 1,847 gallons of water)
1.0 KWH energy
generates 0.7 pounds CO2 equivalents
1 acre of land can produce 1 million pounds of mushrooms annually
As seen on the PETA website, “According to the U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification, it takes up to 10 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of meat, and in the United States alone, 56 million acres of land are used to grow feed for animals, while only 4 million acres are producing plants for humans to eat.”
Why are these mushroom-blended tacos healthier?
Calories. Research suggests substituting mushrooms for lean ground beef in an entrée just once every week would save you almost 20,000 calories in one year
Nutrients. It’s a great way to pack in an extra dose of vitamin D, potassium (8%), B-vitamins and antioxidants.
Sodium. Studies confirm you can maintain the delicious flavor of recipes you love while reducing sodium by 25%
Veggies. This is a great way to stealthily work more veggies into the diets of those who prefer meat and carbs.
Why do I love these Spicy Beef and Shiitake Bahn Mi Tacos?
Pasture-raised, humanely treated local meat can be incredibly expensive. Blending in mushrooms is a great way to eat less meat while still eating BETTER meat, and keeps you from breaking the bank. Also, they’re delicious.
Spicy Beef and Shiitake Bahn Mi Tacos (Reduced Meat Recipe)
For the quick pickles
1/2 medium red pepper (or daikon radish), cut into thin slices and chopped in half once lengthwise
1/2 white or sweet onion, cut into thin slices lengthwise
2 medium carrots, cut into matchstick slices
1 cup rice wine vinegar
2 cup water
2 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of coriander (optional)
For the tacos
3/4 pound of lean beef
1/2 pound of shiitake mushrooms, caps sliced and stems composted or reserved for broth
1 teaspoon minced lemongrass, taken from the core of one large stalk
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1-2 minced tabasco or birds eye chilis (optional)
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup thinly sliced cucumbers
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
sriracha as desired
How to Make Spicy Beef and Shiitake Bahn Mi Tacos
Pour your peppercorns and coriander into a mason jar. Pack in your carrot, white onion, red peppers and/or daikon radishes.
Combine your salt, sugar, and rice vinegar in a medium bowl. Heat your water in a small saucepan, remove just before it reaches the boiling point. Pour your water over your sugar mixture and whisk until all granules have fully dissolved. Pour over your veggies. Seal and place in the refrigerator. Let your veggies marinate in their brine for at least an hour.
While your veggies pickle, saute your shiitake mushrooms in a large saucepan over medium heat with a bit of olive oil until softened and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove your mushrooms from heat and allow to cool somewhat.
Once mushrooms have reached a more reasonable temperature,transfer to a cutting board and roughly dice the shiitakes. You can also pour them into a food processor and set to grind, but be careful NOT to puree your mushrooms. You do not want a paste. Set aside.
Add a bit of olive oil to a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Once oil is shimmery and hot, add the garlic, lemongrass, ginger, and hot peppers. Allow to cook for one minute, stirring to avoid burning your garlic. Add in your ground beef, use a wooden spoon or spatula to break into smaller pieces. Allow the beef to brown and cook through, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat and strain out any fat, if desired, then stir in your mushrooms until mixture is blended. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes to let flavors meld.
In a small bowl using a whisk or fork, briskly stir together your mayonnaise with sriracha - how much you use will depend on how spicy you like your tacos!
Warm your taco shells and layer with your blended beef and shiitake mushrooms, the pickled veggies (strain them first!), cucumber slices, bits of green onion, and copious amounts of cilantro. Enjoy!