For a country which is at least 60 per cent vegetarian, I'm surprised at the number of mushroom haters than emerge from amongst them. What is it about the fungi that puts people off I wonder? Is it the squishisness? Is it that very earthy flavour? Or is the distinct fungi smell?
Because I love all these things about the mushroom. I find them supremely versatile, easy to use and quick to make. I throw them in a number of things - omelets, stir-fries, soups, tarts and even on my morning toast. Ofcourse here I'm talking the humble button mushrooms. For special occasions, I love enoki and shitake mushroom, except they are so expensive here that I have to really think twice before I buy a packet from the supermarket.
I have to say though that the enoki mushroom occupies a special place in my heart. It was this mushroom that truly gave me a sense of umami about eight years ago, when I tried it for the first time as part of a special meal at My Humble House. It changed the way I thought of the fungi and it changed the way I thought of Asian flavours.
That said, it's the button mushroom that is more commonly available and its this variety that is easy to find here. Which is why the marinated mushroom is a great way of consuming these bad boys.
The recipe is simple - you need to balance the flavours - some sour, some salt, some spice, some seasoning and a bit of oil. Once you can wrap this around your head, marinating mushrooms becomes the easiest thing. The lemon or vinegar along with the salt or soy cures the mushrooms making them perfectly awesome to eat. I know a lot of you might be wondering if its still raw but the truth is they get cured and cooked almost as soon as the lemons or vinegar touches the mushrooms.
Depending on how quickly I want to eat them, I use different cuts. If I have barely a few hours I slice them thinly. Overnight - I chop them in quarters, and if I have atleast 48 hours I prefer to keep them whole.
What do you do with them marinated mushroom you might ask me? Well, I do a lot with them. I serve them as a part of a cold cut platter or a cheese platter, throw them into a salad, top them on a bruschetta or just eat 'em plain. Because, well, there are that good.
Here's my go to recipe of these mushrooms:
2 packets of button mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic
1 red chilli
2 tblsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp parsley
1 thinly sliced onion (optional)
Salt to taste
1. Wash and remove the stalk of the mushroom. Quarter them and keep aside
2. In a bowl zest both the lemons and add their juice.
3. Slice the garlics rather thin and bung them into the same bowl. Add salt, parsley extra virgin olive oil along with the chopped red chilli and onions if you're using them.
4. Mix well with the mushrooms and put into a container and keep it covered for atleast 8 hours if not more. Make sure you refrigerate it.
5. When you're ready to serve, remove the excess marinade and top with a bit of fresh parsley