Mushrooms, Natural Meat Substitute

Funke Koleosho's Meat Substitute Mushroom Soup
I occasionally crave mushrooms, so I am starting off the year by sharing one of my very traditional mushroom recipes culled from my cooking mobile app Cook!Nigerian. I really do love mushrooms, and while some may find them a little unusual, they are a real delicacy especially in the Ondo, Ekiti regions of Nigeria.

Mushrooms (locally known as olubeje, osun or ogogo in Yoruba areas) are not that popular across localities in Nigeria but in those areas where they are eaten, they are a real delicacy and an excellent substitute for meat.

I remember stories told by my grand parents who lived in the countryside, how in ancient times when the hunters were unable to catch any animals for food, that mushrooms were eaten instead. They told about how how an ode was written about mushrooms...this is for my Ekiti readers only....hehehe "ogogo to s' obe, o m'arugbo s'iyan je"...) in other words, mushrooms' taste and flavour are simply out of this world....

As one might expect, mushrooms found in Nigeria are so different from what we find here in the UK and they come in a number of varieties depending on where they are harvested. They are still pretty much seasonal and cannot be purchased all year round as we do here. These attributes I believe help to define their natural, earthy, strong, tastes and flavours.

Growing up, we ate a lot of mushrooms because my dad travelled a lot to the village and during their season, he would buy basket loads of mushrooms on the roadside and bring them home. We had the fun job of cleaning and prepping them up in preparation for cooking. I remember, just like yesterday, my first taste of mushrooms. They were really very flavourful and tasty.I often wondered why this was the case, until I discovered during my numerous researches on Nigerian food that mushrooms contain glutamic acid, a natural natural flavour enhancer, similar to mono sodium glutamate. No wonder.....that explains why every dish mushrooms were added always tasted great.

Prepping mushrooms back them was a simple and straightforward process. Clean the mushrooms, blanch in some salted water and then freeze until needed. This way, they can be added to other dishes especially dishes like efo riro, asepo and even meat or fish stews. They can also be cooked on their own with added fish and meat, then eaten with pounded yam in particular, even though it can be eaten with many other side dishes like rice, amala, gari or eba etc.

As part of regulating my diet, I tend to eat mushrooms on days that I want to take a break from eating meat. Mushrooms have a great taste, flavour and texture which makes them a great substitute. They are also quite nutritionally balanced and offer some important nutrients minerals and vitamins.

Nutritional Data for Mushrooms (100g of Olubeje, variety found in Nigeria)
Calories: 22kcal
Dietary Fibre: 1.5g
Carbohydrates: 3g
Protein: 3g
Fat: 0g
Vitamins: Folate, Vitamins C, Niacin, Pamtothenic Acid
Minerals: Potassium, Phosphorus, Calcium, Sodium, Zinc

If you have not tried it before, here is an opportunity...check out my recipe below: Its really simple, create the base sauce similar to that used to make efo riro. Then add the washed and blanched mushrooms!

What you need
  • Some button mushrooms (chestnut or oyster mushrooms are a good alternative. If you are based in Nigeria, you should use the most popular variety known as olubeje )
  • 4 medium very ripe tomatoes or 1 can of plum peeled tomatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 scotch bonnet chilli pepper (optional)
  • Some dried catfish chunks or smoked haddock (use of dried fish is optional)
  • Some locust beans (this is an absolute must to create a really authentic taste. Leave them out if you do not like locust beans
  • 100ml of red palm oil
  • Some chicken stock 
  • Some freshly chopped basil
  • 2-3 tablespoons of ground crayfish

What to do
  1. Blend the tomatoes, chilli pepper and onion in a blender. Heat the palm oil in a large enough pot then add the blend. Add the stock. Stir all together and cook under high heat for about 5 minutes.
  2. Turn heat down and cook for another 5 minutes or so to reduce the sauce. Add the ground crayfish and locust beans. Stir well and taste for salt. Adjust salt if required.
  3.  Add the dried fish chunks. Allow the fish to cook for a bit to soften up. Add some hot water if needs be to avoid the sauce drying out. 
  4. Then add the washed and quartered mushrooms. Stir. The mushrooms cook quickly and will release their own juices, This will loosen the stew, so take extra care not to make the stew too watery.
  5. Finally, add the chopped basil. 
  6. Serve hot with any side dish of choice.Ideal to serve with boiled rice, and as an add-on for other vegetable soups or stews,

Meat Substitute Mushroom Soup



  1. This is a nice one. I am based in Moscow and for the 1st time, I tasted a pasta sauce with Mushrooms. I must confess it taste really good. I will try this your pattern out that's because I love cooking.



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