05 September 2012

Simple Pleasure: Chinese Mushrooms

On the way home from work recently, I found myself craving a mushroom-swiss burger, but not one of the oversalted, gloopy monstrosities from a fast food joint. Mini-burgers have been my preferred method of cooking at home lately, so at the store I grabbed the necessary ingredients with a couple of twists. The burger and cheese might be routine, but I was determined to have great mushrooms.

One of these days when I'm living in a house with a gas range, I'm going to force myself to seriously study Chinese cooking. Some pieces of equipment and certain ingredients are filtering their way into my kitchen, but techniques and flavor matching will take time and effort. One thing I've read about is starting from a simple trio of ingredients, sort of like starting soups with onions, carrots, and celery. In this case, I'm talking about garlic, ginger, and green onions. Also, for the purposes of this recipe I used simple white button mushrooms, but in the future will be using more adventurous fungi.

I started out with a hot stainless steel skillet and added a splash of grapeseed oil, which has a decent smoke point and a neutral flavor. Then I added minced ginger and the sliced white parts of the onions, keeping everything moving quickly. Next up, minced garlic cooked just until golden (so as not to burn and become bitter) and then the sliced mushrooms. As they released their moisture and began to soften, I splashed the pan with rice wine vinegar to deglaze and kept stirring. At this point I just needed it all to reduce, so I added a little soy sauce and dark brown chinkiang vinegar. Within minutes, I had perfectly cooked, highly flavorful mushrooms.

They worked great with the burgers, but would have been better with some additional sautéed vegetables over noodles. And there are dozens of different noodles available at the nearby International Market...

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