MoFo'n Idaho Finger (Portobello) Steaks

 Make (or eat!) a traditional local dish.

 Idaho is a beautiful place, abundant with high desert landscapes, cooling rivers, victorious mountains, and every skinny dippers heaven, hot springs. The city of Boise (where I live) is a melting pot of culture over flowing with ballet, opera, symphony, art, and a bustling DIY music scene, but the one area where it's severely lacking is local cuisine. Don't get me wrong there's some great restaurants that feature cuisines from all around the country but there isn't really a style of food that was created here. In the South we've got BBQ and fried green tomatoes; up North they're all about boiling their seafood but here in Idaho it's all about prairie food. You know the stuff from that game Oregon Trail? Stews, beans, meat and potatoes, etc. stuff that's easy to travel with and will nourish you after your ox gets sick and your wagon wheel breaks, but even that cuisine belongs to another region. There is literally only one dish I can think of that was created here and made a name for itself in this region and that's Finger Steaks (think: Country Fried Chicken but with sirloin cut into bite size finger foods that are perfect for dipping into your fave condiment).

Finger steaks apparently originated here in Boise when Milo Bybee, was trying to preserve some sirloin scraps from his restaurant, Torch Lounge, in the mid 50s (the place is still standing and in business but it's a booby-bar now).  Rumor has it, Milo wasn't down to throw some sirloin scraps out, so he breaded them, fried them and called them the Lunch Special the next day.

Eventually the restaurant closed down and The Torch was converted into it's current incarnation (still a booby-bar), but if you're into animal carcass, don't worry, you can still get finger steaks there and at just about any other restaurant, deli, grocery store, etc. in the state of Idaho; usually served with fries and a shit ton of fry sauce (another Idaho delicacy: 2 parts mayo:1 part ketchup).

Here I've re-created this dish using portobello mushrooms and as far as I'm concerned it is way better than the original recipe (which I've never had). There's a Finger Steak Cook-Off held sporadically in Boise and I'm thinking I'm gonna enter these bad boys  (no I'm being serious. I'm from Alabama. I pride myself on my ability to fry anything and even more than that, I pride myself in being a bad ass Vegan Chef). These finger steaks are the farthest thing from healthy, but sometimes you just gotta do it, not feel guilty about it, and enjoy licking your greasy fingers.

Finger steaks are the epitome of Idaho's culinary pride.

The Steak

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
4-5 portobello mushroom caps, thick sliced

The Batter

1 1/4 c rice flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 c cold water

  1. Mixed together all the liquid ingredients under steak and let your shrooms bathe in them for at least 30 minutes. 
  2. Mix together all the batter ingredients in a pie plate and get ready to batter your shrooms. 
  3. In a cast iron skillet (or whatever you prefer) get about ½-1 in of oil good and hot. You’ll know it’s ready when you sprinkle a tiny bit of flour in the oil and it sizzles immediately. 
  4. Coat your thick slices of shrooms in the batter and carefully place into the hot oil. You’ll need 2-3 minutes on each side and you’ll also wanna make sure you don’t crowd pan (if you do, the temp will drop real quick and all your shrooms will do is soak up a shit ton of oil.)
  5. Keep your batches warm in the oven until all the shrooms are fried up. Serve with fries and a lot of fry sauce (a lot!)

Tomorrow: Honor a human or non human animal who inspires your veganism, see y'all there.
ICYMI: Here's MoFo'n Day 16:  My Favorite Late Summer Dish

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  1. I've never been to Idaho or had a finger steak, but your recreation looks amazing! I'm sure to give it a try!

  2. Happily, I've also never heard of finger steaks or eaten them, and happily I now know how to make portobello ones instead. They're much more up my street (I mean obviously, because they're vegan) but the dip is so something I would enjoy.

  3. Amber, you should enter the finger steak cook off, why not - this recipe looks awesome and food like this is good for us now and again, we have to indulge ourselves. Another recipe of yours I am bookmarking. It reminds me a little of Millenniums Oyster Mushrooms calamari and that is why I know these are gonna be awesome!

  4. This looks delicious! I think you should enter them in the has to give them a run for their money.

  5. Yum! You should definitely go for it; I'm sure your finger steaks will make quite an impression in the cook-off! :D


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