When you can’t get your portobello mushrooms, what do you do? Buy fresh shiitake mushrooms instead!
It was one of those Sunday mornings when I was already up and about at 7 a.m. It was laundry day for me, too, so while the clothes were turning and swirling merrily in the washing machine, I took a quick trip to the market just a block from where I live. With no particular item in mind, I scanned what’s available — fresh vegetables and lots of it! I got my requisite greens and aromatics, plus the regulars — tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, etc. I was about to go back home when I espied a woman in a corner manning a low table full of fresh shiitake mushrooms! Of course, I had to buy some.
Happy with my purchase, I went back to my apartment to finish pending chores. By mid-morning, I knew what I’d do with the mushrooms. I am all for simple and quick dishes and shiitake mushroom steaks are definitely one of them. The recipe is not new and it has been done countless times, mostly using portobello. It was the first time I’d be doing the recipe with shiitake mushrooms but I had no worries as I knew it would taste as great. It’s all in the marinade anyway. Here’s what you need:
6-8 pieces medium-sized fresh shiitake mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced (or more if you like)
4 T balsamic vinegar (you can adjust the amount according to your preference)
3 T extra virgin olive oil
fresh dill, chopped (or whatever available herbs you have)
salt and pepper
1. Wash mushrooms and cut the stems. For those who frown on washing mushrooms, just be sure they’re clean and free of dirt by wiping them with paper towels properly. Save the stems for other dishes, such as soup or fried rice. (Here’s a fried rice recipe where you can use the mushroom stems.)
2. Mix the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and garlic in a bowl.
3. Arrange the mushrooms (caps side up) on a container and pour in the marinade. Sprinkle some chopped dill and season with salt and pepper.
4. Cover and marinate in the fridge for half an hour. Turn the mushrooms over halfway through.
5. Cook on the grill or in a grill pan anywhere from 3-5 minutes on each side. Cooking time will depend on the size of the mushrooms and temperature. I usually go by my senses when cooking. If the mushrooms feel soft, then it’s ready. If you see some nice caramelization going on, then it’s time to take it out of the heat.
It’s always good to eat mushroom steaks straight from the pan and while it’s still hot. You can eat it as is or make a sandwich with it. I usually put it on a hamburger bun with lettuce, caramelized onions, tomatoes, sweet bell pepper, and homemade baby pickles on the side. You can also serve it on a bed of lettuce as a salad topping. But I almost always pair it with a cup of steamed rice. Imagine having a spoonful of the sweet and sour, and garlicky flavors of the mushroom along with the fluffy rice, then following it up with slices of ripe tomatoes. That’s comfort food right then and there!