This vegetarian pozole rojo is inspired by a great pork version from a little booth at First Fridays at Jack London Square in Oakland. Sadly, I don't know the name of the place to give credit where it's due. But $7 got me a heaping bowl of rich red broth, pulled pork and chewy hominy covered with crunchy cabbage and radishes.
I was with some friends who are vegetarian, so they couldn't experience the awesomeness of this pork pozole. I set out to make a vegetarian version - one that still has all the intense umami goodness and great texture that's hard to achieve without meat.
The secret ingredient? Shiitake mushrooms. Seek out big ones with big stems. Take the stems and shred them into barbacoa-esque strands, then finely slice the caps and splash it all with soy sauce. The texture is spot-on and the soy sauce amps up the meatiness of the flavor.
Go nuts with garnish, too. I call out cabbage, radishes, lime and cilantro, but you could also add pepitas, avocados, or hot sauce.
Vegetarian Pozole Rojo
Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 35 min Total Time: 45 min
6 dried red chiles (I used 2 Ancho, 2 Guajillo and 2 New Mexico)
8 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and shredded and caps sliced thin
1 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbs grapeseed oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
2 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced
29 oz / 822 g can hominy, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup fire-roasted crushed tomatoes (Muir Glen is great)
Salt and pepper
1/4 green cabbage, shredded finely
4 radishes, sliced thin
Make the chile sauce: Pull off the tops of the chiles and remove the seeds. Toast in a large pot over medium heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender or food processor, blend until smooth.
Meanwhile, prep all the vegetables. Place the mushrooms in a bowl and drizzle over the soy sauce and stir to combine.
Remove the chile sauce from the pot and give it a quick rinse. In the same pot, heat the oil over medium heat, then add onion, carrot, garlic, cumin, oregano and 1/2 tsp salt. Saute for about 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and mushrooms plus another pinch of salt and cook for another 3 minutes.
Pour the chile sauce, hominy and tomatoes over the vegetables. Add 1 cup of water and stir. Simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
To serve, ladle pozole into bowls and top with cabbage, radishes, cilantro and serve lime wedges on the side. Avocado and toasted pepitas are also nice to add.
Also tastes great the next day!