Friday, September 5, 2014

Vietnamese-Style Portobello Mushrooms

This was our conversation: Me- “I cooked from a new book for dinner tonight. The book is The Essential New York Times Grilling Cookbook (review copy), and it includes recipes and writing related to grilling from the entire history of The Times.” Kurt- “A grilling book! What did you grill?” Me- “Vietnamese-Style Portobello Mushrooms.” Kurt- “You have a new grilling book…and, you made mushrooms?” Me- “Of course!” His hopes for a steak off the grill were dashed, but he did enjoy the portobellos. The book does include plenty of recipes for meats with an entire chapter for Burgers, one for Beef and Veal, one for Pork, another just for Lamb, a Poultry chapter, and one for Fish and Shellfish. But, there are also Starters, Vegetables and Sides, Desserts and Breads, and Marinades Rubs and Sauces. I also have Amanda Hesser’s The Essential New York Times Cookbook, and I haven’t done a page by page search to find out how many recipes are included in both books. One difference between the two books, though, is that this grilling book includes writing in addition to recipes. The first story is about Mr. Gunning’s Barbecue in Mount Vernon which appeared on March 30 in 1887. There are stories and accompanying recipes from over the years from writers and contributors like Craig Claiborne, Pierre Franey, Jane Nickerson, Steven Raichlen, Florence Fabricant, Mark Bittman, Julia Moskin, Sam Sifton, and many more. I particularly enjoyed the story by Sam Sifton about hog roasting in a La Caja China which is a Cuban roasting box. He attempted to track down the reason for the name (the explanation is that “Cubans like to call anything that is unusual or clever Chinese”), and in the process found out about other cultures that roast pigs in boxes. All of this interest resulted in a mojo-brined, roasted pig served with black beans and rice and plenty of rum, and I ended up craving Cuban flavors after reading about it. My Cuban feast had to wait because a few pages later, I was taken with Mark Bittman’s description of various grilled vegetables including Portobello mushrooms. 

I want to mention what I think is an important ingredient in all grilling recipes, and that’s the smoke from the hardwood coals. The convenience of gas grills is great, and I sometimes just grill in a grill-pan inside for nice char marks. But, natural hardwood coals impart added flavor to grilled food like nothing else. With these grilled portobellos, it was an integral part of the resulting dish. To start, a marinade was made with peanut oil, lime juice, chopped mint, minced Thai chile, and fish sauce. I spooned half the marinade over the cleaned mushroom caps and left them to sit while the grill was prepped. Once on the grill, the mushrooms were brushed with more of the marinade as they cooked. They need almost 20 minutes of grilling over medium heat to cook all the way through and become tender. After taking them off the grill, I let the mushrooms sit for a few minutes before slicing them and serving them garnished with sliced chiles and chopped green onion and mint. I served the sliced Portobellos with a Vietnamese rice noodle salad inspired by one found on David Lebovitz’s site. I simplified the salad by only adding cucumber, carrot, chiles, and baked tofu and topped it with chopped peanuts and fried shallots. 

The mushrooms were loaded with flavor from the marinade combined with smoky flavor from the grill. Some of the other recipes from the story about grilled vegetables were Chili-Rubbed Jicama Steaks with Queso Fresco, Teriyaki Cabbage Steaks, Curry-Rubbed Sweet Potato Planks, and Miso-Glazed Eggplant Slices. I want to try those on the grill too. And, yes, I will eventually turn to the meat chapters to grill something just for Kurt.  

Vietnamese-Style Portobello Mushrooms 
Recipe reprinted with publisher's permission from The Essential New York Times Grilling Cookbook.
Time: 20 minutes Yield: 4 servings 

1⁄4 cup peanut oil 
1⁄4 cup fresh lime juice 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish 
1 fresh hot red chili (like Thai), seeded and minced 
1 tablespoon fish sauce 
1⁄2 teaspoon sugar 
Salt and lots of black pepper 
4 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed 

1. Heat a charcoal or gas grill until quite hot and put rack about 4 inches from flame. Mix together oil, lime juice, mint, chili, fish sauce and sugar and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brush mushrooms all over with about half of this mixture. 

2. Grill mushrooms with tops of their caps away from heat until they begin to brown, 5 to 8 minutes. Brush with remaining marinade and turn. Grill until tender and nicely browned all over, 5 to 10 minutes more. Garnish with more mint and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

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20 comments:

  1. Haha! I wouldn't have been able to pass up these mushrooms either, grilling book or not. They look so good! We are big fans of natural hardwood coals, too. Can't be beat!

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  2. Delicious! I love mushrooms and Vietnamese food.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. Looks so good! Light and yummy! :)

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  4. Hi Lisa!
    I love cookbooks that add the flavors of stories:) I was actually introduced to grilled portobello when my daughter was here. She was not pleased that she had to cook them on a gas grill so not only did I get to sample them but I also got a bit of a sermon, lol...

    I'm assuming the "hubby" was pleased. How could he resist, it looks delicious! Thank you so much for sharing, Lisa...

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  5. Giant mushrooms are awesome, they are definitely the way to go :D
    Love how fragrant they must have been!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  6. Stunning grilled portobello dish! Mmmm love the Vietnamese flavors you incorporate in this dish!

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  7. The Vietnamese flavours on the portobello mushrooms must have been lovely. The rice noodle salad looks amazing xx

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  8. This book I am going to resist bringing home.... I have NYT Essentials, and it is a huge book, as you know. Over 900 pages. I am having such limited space to keep my cookbooks, this one is "only" 400 pages long, and the fact that probably many recipes overlap... make me strong to resist...

    you picked a great recipe!

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  9. Oh these look wonderful and I actually would love a tasty change from grilled meat once in a while. Sadly, I have no grill, no yard or balcony for a grill but I haven't given up hope... if we ever buy a house with a yard it will be the first thing I buy. This book the second.

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  10. Have never cooked with portobello and I would love try them one day :)

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  11. we're at the beach this week and we finally have a grill with which to play (and a place to use it), so even though i usually dislike mushrooms, we might try this one!

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  12. What a flavorful dish…I love the meatiness of portobellos.

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  13. I am a huge mushroom fan, these look just lovely!

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  14. Love what you did here, I bet this is fabulous, will be making this for sure. Pinned!

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  15. Wow! I love your recipe! Looks delicious!

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  16. I don't grill at all anymore, but these mushrooms look fabulous, Lisa. Don't see why I couldn't grill on top of the stove. The portobellos almost look like sliced beef, don't they? I've made plenty of burgers using mushrooms instead of beef. Love the salad too.

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  17. Ha! I'm sure my husband would have much the same reaction if I chose grilled mushrooms, too! Great recipe.

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  18. Boy this sounds so good in soup form too. Doesn't it? A nice warm, hearty vietnamese style mushroom soup? Heavenly!

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  19. Your photograph is always being seductive to me Lisa....
    lovely spicy and hot vegan dish!!!

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