Willy’s Baja Lipsliders

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(Wahoo’s-inspired Black Bean Shiitake Sliders with Vegan Baja Slaw)

Prep time: 20 minutes. Bake time (including mushrooms): 20 minutes. Total time: 40 minutes.

When I started this blog a little less than two months ago, the stated purpose was to promote longevity on the board through healthy, plant-based cooking.  If you’re looking for the very definition of longevity on a skateboard, look no further than Willy Santos.  You can find his parts on YouTube dating back as far as 1990 and as recent as 2016 (it should be noted that at both ends of the spectrum and every year in between, Willy has set the bar for style, creativity and innovation).  When I started working on this recipe to channel Willy’s skating, I had the pleasant conundrum of genuinely being unsure of which era to try to capture.  For starters, I could watch him doing rapid-succession bigspins and grinds-to-slides (to grinds again) in his G&S footage in the early 90s; or, I could try to capture the raw style and monster pop of his skating in Birdhouse’s 1998 opus, “The End” (the Regulators edit, of course); then again, I could watch him shred transition in Birdhouse’s next video, “The Beginning,” where he launches an all-out assault on every obstacle, including all sorts of fastplants off of trees and fences; or I could watch his 2015 part, “Connecting the Dots,” where his innovation continues with some mind-blowing powerslides in the middle of manuals.  If that’s not enough, I could write about his mini-ramp part he put together for his 41st birthday, “Mini Mania,” in which he shreds a ramp with enough dexterity to make Daewon blush.  If it’s not painfully obvious, what I’m trying to get across here is that Willy rips and, apparently, doesn’t age.  Here, for your viewing pleasure, is one of his older parts, alongside one of his newer parts:

If you’re new to the game, you may not know the evolution of Willy’s board company, “Willy’s Workshop.”  We’ll get to the decks in a second, but it’s worth pointing out that Willy’s ingenuity doesn’t subside once he’s off the board.  Originally, Willy’s Workshop was the ultimate combo: a skate shop where you could both pick up some new gear, as well as get an expert trim.  That’s right, Willy can not only do endless combos on a marble ledge; he pioneered a skate shop that could make you look dapper.  When I had read about this back in the early 00s, I knew two things: (1) I was going to be a pro skater someday; and (2) I would get my hair cut by Willy Santos (or at least one of the barbers at the shop).  Sadly, neither of those came to fruition (although, Willy, if you’re reading this, there’s still time).  While my hopes of turning pro were dashed early on, Willy’s Workshop didn’t make the transition to being exclusively online until 2012, long after I settled into the idea of working a desk job.  From there, it evolved into the board company you know and love today.

In writing this, I also took some time to peruse the Willy’s Workshop boards.  Being the nostalgic old dog that I am, one of the things I often lament the loss of is creative graphics that aren’t just blatant pre-fab patters with a brand name.  Willy’s Workshop harkens back to the days when decks were actual graphics; not just walking advertisements.  They provide a welcome return to the deliciously ironic cartoon art of yesteryear, while still incorporating a modern touch.  Hats off to you, good sir.

As I said before, in trying to design the perfect recipe, I went back and re-watched a lot of Willy’s video parts.  Choosing a favorite would be as difficult as the proverbial choosing a favorite child (which my parents assure me is difficult), but I can say that the intro that sticks out most in my mind is watching Willy get endlessly assaulted in a one-sided food fight (correction: food slaughter) at Wahoo’s in the beginning of his part in “The End”.  Given that Willy can at least agree to getting doused in all of the ingredients in delicious Baja-style tacos, and given his affinity for impossibly long boardslides and lipslides, I decided to make Wahoo’s-inspired black bean and shiitake mushroom sliders with vegan Baja coleslaw.  Given that this is a plant-based blog, fish tacos are obviously out of the mix, but thankfully Wahoo’s boasts plenty of vegetarian options.  One of my favorites back in the day (unfortunately, the Wahoo’s in downtown Austin is no longer around) was their mushroom tacos.  With that in mind, I decided to recreate the Baja flavor of their mushroom tacos, but as eponymously titled sliders, to celebrate Willy’s ability to lipslide and boardslide for what appears to be at least a mile in every video part.

This blog hasn’t been in syndication long enough for me to justify tooting my own horn, but I’ll do it anyway: these are damn delicious.  The slew of startled expletives from my wife’s mouth upon her first bite confirmed that this recipe is enough to please almost any diner, regardless of whether you like or detest mushrooms (and my wife certainly hated them prior to this recipe).  The black beans and the mushrooms cook together with the red onion to provide an earthy, hearty flavor.  If it’s the texture of mushrooms you dislike, leave that fear at the door.  By chopping them into fine bits, you trade the texture for a flavor that permeates the patty and melds with the other ingredients to take on a whole new identity.

I’ve never been a huge fan of coleslaw (even before I was vegan), but again, I have to gloat a little with this coleslaw.  By trading in the cream base for olive oil, agave, lime juice and mango, this recipe makes it a tangy topper for the patty that breathes a new life into each bite, rather than just sitting enigmatically in the mix and soaking the bun.  Throw that in the middle of a vegan bun of your choice with a little bit of lettuce and buttery avocado and you’ve got a meal worth feasting on, rather than chucking at Willy at the beginning of a video part.

Ready to cook?  Reeegulatooors, mount up!

SLIDER INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can (15.5 oz) black beans (drained)
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups shiitake mushrooms (finely chopped)
  • ½ cup quick cook oats (ground up, if possible, for texture)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1-2 tbsp soy sauce (to taste)
  • 3 tbsp parsley (finely chopped)
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil (for cooking)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax seed, 3 tbsp warm water) or ¼ large avocado
  • Avocado (as a topping)
  • Lettuce (as a topping)

BAJA SLAW INGREDIENTS:

  • ½ medium red cabbage (chopped)
  • 1-2 sweet red/orange/yellow peppers (diced)
  • 2-3 green onion stalks (chopped)
  • 1-2 medium mangos (chopped)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar (or tbsp of sugar)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1 lime

DIRECTIONS:

  1. First thing’s first, make that flax egg. Since burgers/sliders usually use egg as an emulsifier to keep the patty together, we’ll be using flax as a replacement.  Simply mix a tablespoon of ground flax seed with three tablespoons of water, using a fork or whisk, and let it sit in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.  If you don’t have any flax seed on hand, you can also just use ¼ of a medium avocado.
  2. While that’s chilling, start cooking the finely chopped mushrooms. Heat up the 1-2 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet on medium heat and then toss in the mushrooms and fry them up, stirring occasionally, until the oil has been absorbed or evaporated.  Add some salt and pepper to taste, then set them aside to cool.
  3. Pour the black beans in a large bowl and use a fork to mash them up. While most of them should be mashed pretty well, I set aside about ¼ of the can and add them later, just to add some texture to the patties.  Once those are mashed, toss in the mushrooms, red onion, parsley, soy sauce, oats and flax egg and mix it all up.
  4. To get the perfect patty shape, line a 1/3 measuring cup with plastic wrap, then pack it with the mix and level it out. Over some parchment paper, simply turn it over and remove the plastic wrap in order to pull the patty out in flawless cylindrical form.  Then lightly grease the bottom of a flat surface (I use a larger measuring cup) and lightly press the patty down to the desired width.  Grease a large skillet with a cooking spray of your choice and cook the patties on medium heat for 5-6 minutes per side, or until they are slightly crispy and firm.
  5. For the slaw, mix all of the chopped cabbage, sweet peppers, green onions, mango and carrots in a large bowl. If you’re not sure how to chop a mango, an easy tutorial can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yQqVY-CsPk.  Make sure your mango is nice and soft to the touch before using it!
  6. In a separate bowl, mix up the olive oil, lime juice and agave. Pour it into the bowl of chopped ingredients and mix it around thoroughly.
  7. Throw down some lettuce on a bun of your choice, top it with a sizzling, fresh-off-the-skillet patty, add some avocado and a spoonful or two of Baja slaw, and then bite into paradise.
  8. Go watch some of Willy’s video parts and resist the urge to throw any of your food at him.

Yield: Recipes makes approximately 5 patties and 5 cups of coleslaw

Per patty (before adding avocado, lettuce or bun): 160 calories, 4.5g fat, 26g carbs, 8g protein

Coleslaw (1 cup): 160 calories, 8.5g fat, 11g carbs, 2g protein

Happy shredding,

Johnny

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