The "clams" are smoked king oyster mushrooms; the recipe tells you to smoke them on a stove top smoker like this little set up of wood chips in a foil-covered heavy pan:
Place a bamboo steamer over the top of the chips and it works pretty well as a makeshift smoker.
The stove top smoker is not essential however. I've made this recipe many times just coating the mushrooms in a smoky spice mix (smoked salt, paprika, garlic granules, Old Bay), and then cooking them under the broiler for 3-5 minutes. I actually prefer the taste from the smoked salt rub method better than the smoker method. You could also marinate them in a smoky marinade.
Once they're broiled or smoked, cut them into strips and they're ready for the chowder.
As I mentioned, I make this often and have come up with my own deviations from the original recipe:
- Added: a generous Tablespoon of white miso and a good few drops of umeboshi vinegar to the cashew cream. I do this more often than not with any creamy base; it makes it richer and nuttier and salty. Do a taste test, but you usually don't need to add extra salt to the recipe.
- Added: 2 cups of Seitenbacher veggie broth to the finished kombu broth. Seitenbacher broth is unsalted and has nutritional yeast in it; it adds some nice flavor.
- I usually only use 2 cups of cashews instead of the 4 the recipe calls for, and I don't soak them overnight as it suggests in the recipe. That's total overkill in my opinion. Soaking them for 45 minutes to an hour is plenty if you ask me; they blend up just fine.
- Added: a finely diced jalapeno to the celery/onion saute base.
In other family news, meet Molly. She's a foster kitty from the local animal shelter. I help out with cat fosters when the isolation room gets full. She's just about a year old, though she's already had a litter of kittens! She started early. :D Anyway, she's spayed now and is so cute and fun, still full of kittenish play.
These photos don't capture what fun she is...I really should post a video of her at play, because she gets up to the funniest and cutest things.
She loves the sun porch, where as in the photo above, she hangs out in the plant pots. And, my cat Cheeky, who is a hard sell for new cats in the house will even tolerate her enough to share the sun room with her.
Cheeky is still not 100% sold on the idea of Molly being around, but our other cat, Lucky, has become a fast friend. They run around the house cat wrestling and playing together and then snuggle up on the bed. Again, I wish I had a vid of them at play, but we'll have to do with pics for now.
Anyone in the Seattle area who knows someone interested in making Molly part of their loving home and cherish her forever...you know where to find her. Here's her petfinder posting.
Healthy Clam Chowder Recipe