Vegan Salt Beef Bagel

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An underrated fast food treasure made famous in the UK by the beigel shops of East London, the salt beef bagel is often overlooked by vegan junk food aficionado’s because of it’s relative difficulty to approximate and a surprising lack of accessible recipe ideas available online.

Real salt beef is made by soaking brisket in a brine for days on end to produce a tender, chunky, meat that is often served with rye bread, emmental and sauerkraut to make reuben sandwiches; or with mustard, pickles and a fresh baked bagel for the dish replicated in this recipe.

The tasty vegan ‘meat’ this process yields uses ingredients you’d expect to see in the traditional brine mixture as a thick marinade to steep the mushrooms in the same delicious taste, with the addition of miso paste, lemon and soy sauce to get the flavour closer to the original. The soy, salt and long roasting time work to draw out all of the slimy moisture in the portobello to give a more pleasing and accurate texture, but be warned that the large mushrooms will shrink down considerably, so you’ll need four for each serving.

It takes a while, and you definitely need a very sharp knife handy, but if you’ve got the craving; this vegan version of a brick lane salt beef beigel will go a long way to sate it.

Total time: At least 24 hours to marinade, but only 35 minutes prep and cooking time.
Serves: 1 hungry person (double it up for 2 bagels)

Ingredients

4 portobello mushrooms (stem and gills removed)
2 tbsp red miso paste (mame miso would be ideal if available)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp juniper berries, ground
½ tsp coriander seeds
¼ tsp mustard seeds
1 clove garlic, quartered
2 Bay leaves, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
Black peppercorns, ground
Pink peppercorns
Sea Salt ground

1 tbsp pistachios, coarsely chopped
1 handful rocket
Extra virgin olive oil
Mustard (ideally with dill)

Sweet pickles, sliced lengthways
1 bagel very lightly toasted

Instructions

In a medium bowl, whisk together the miso, sugar, soy, vegetable oil, lemon, juniper berries, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, parsley, bay leaves and pink peppercorns with a good grind of salt and black pepper.  Coat the stemmed mushrooms in the marinade and drop them into an air tight bag with the cut garlic chunks then set them in a fridge for around 24 hours.

Heat the oven to 170°C and line a baking tray with foil. Take the mushrooms out of the bag and dab off any excess marinade with paper towel, placing them gill side down on the baking tray.  Give them a good grind of salt and black pepper and roast in the oven for around 25 minutes, or until the mushrooms appear dry on top and are cooked tender throughout.

Using a fishslice, transfer the mushrooms to a chopping board to rest and cool down enough to handle.  With a VERY sharp knife, slice the mushrooms at an almost horizontal angle into 0.25-0.5cm chunks.

Mix the sliced mushrooms with a teaspoon of mustard, the pistachios, rocket and a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil then place on the base of the bagel.  Top off with some more mustard and as many pickles as you can handle and serve wrapped in some paper or torn baking parchment to stop any of the ingredients from slipping while you eat.

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