Have I told you about my new food blogger crush? I’ve been a little bit obsessed lately with the blog Just One Cookbook. The Japanese-American author, Nami, is a genius. This is one of my favorites of hers, modified slightly. It’s a simple, quick (less than 20 minutes) and delicious veggie side dish to pair with literally anything, all year round.
You can make this salad with any mushrooms that are available. The idea is just to have a little bit of texture, flavor, and size variety. Go with whatever you’ve got. My favorites are shiitakes, shimejis, and maitakes (also known as hen of the woods, not to be confused with chicken of the woods).
For greens, you can use any light, peppery leafy green that wilts nicely in a warm salad. I use Japanese mizuna because I have access to it, but arugula, spinach, or watercress would work great too.
In the original recipe, I found Nami’s mushroom cooking tips super helpful and spot on. She says:
“To achieve a deep, flavorful sear, make sure your frying pan is hot enough before you add in the mushrooms. Depending on the type of mushrooms, you may want to add them in succession so the meatier ones get cooked first. Keep the mushrooms spread out in a single layer without crowding the pan. Add in a pinch of salt to help draw out the moisture and then leave the mushrooms untouched until they achieve a rich brown color on the edges. And remember it’s always better to overcook mushrooms than undercook them.“
Now go forth and eat all the shrooms.
- 5-6 large shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
- 1 package shimeji mushrooms, removed from base and separated, 3.5 oz
- 1 small handful maitake mushrooms, roughly separated, 3-4 oz
- 1 bunch mizuna, arugula, watercress, or spinach
- 2 Tbsp neutral flavored oil (canola, vegetable oil, etc)
- 1-2 Tbsp cooking sake (optional)
- Toasting and grinding your own sesame seeds will substantially more flavorful than using pre-ground, and it only takes a couple of minutes. If you want to try this, do it before cooking the mushrooms. First put the sesame seeds in a frying pan and toast them over low heat. When a few sesame seeds start to pop, remove from the heat. Let them cool for a minute or two and then grind them in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, leaving a few unground for texture. If you don't want to bother with this step, you can use pre-ground store bought sesame seeds.
- Slice and prepare the mushrooms and mix the sauce ingredients in a small cup with a fork.
- Heat the neutral flavored oil in a large, wide, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the mushrooms to the hot pan with a pinch of salt. They should sizzle on contact. If the mushrooms are overcrowded and can't be spread out in a single layer, cook them in two batches. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until well seared. If using any small, delicate mushrooms, add them toward the end of cooking.
- When the mushrooms are browned to your liking, (about 5-10 more minutes), stir in the splash of sake to deglaze. Stir in the sauce and cover, steaming the mushrooms for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, and then stir in the greens. The greens will wilt on contact with the hot mushrooms. Let everything sit for a minute to meld.
- Divide the salad into two portions and serve warm.
- Don’t limit yourself to the mushrooms in the ingredients list, use whatever mushrooms you have. If you’ve got bags of mushroom odds and ends, use them! If you’ve never tried shijemi mushrooms, I highly recommend them! They are cheap and require zero chopping. The only mushroom I might not use would be chanterelles, because for some reason I don’t associate those with asian flavors and prefer them in more Italian-type dishes.