Saturday, May 20, 2006

Recipe: Sherry Portabello Mushrooms

Sorry for the lack of updates, but I've interning takes up a lot of time and energy. I'm not looking forward to entering the working world.

Anyway, one of my favourite foods are mushrooms. There's something incredibly earthy and terrestial about them, evoking visions of deep forest and sun-dappled woods, of truffle dogs seeking their prizes at the bases of aged oaks, and of old famers pleased with this year's harvest of morels.

From truffles to shiitakes to chanterelles, mushrooms make for great eating, especially because their versatility allows them to make appearances in soups, sauces, pizza, stews and just about any dish conceivable.

Portabello mushrooms, in particular, are great to work with, as their larger size allows them to withstand more robust treatment, and they possess a meaty flavour that few other vegetables rival. Most recipes tend to call for these mushrooms to be baked or grilled, but I prefer using wet heat, which renders the mushrooms much juicier and allows them to absorb a greater variety of flavours. Of course, it also means I get to eat them quicker.

Sherry Portabello Mushrooms (Serves 1)
1 Portabello Mushroom
1 Tbsp powdered Oregano
Olive oil
1 tsp truffle oil (optional)
1/3 cup (75ml) sherry

Mushroom mise en place

Notes on ingredients: Try and get large mushrooms, at least 4 inches (10cm) across. Truffle oil really knocks up the taste quotient, but only if you have some around. I generally dislike buying products from Virginia Dare, but I haven't been able to find a viable alternative to their sherry cooking wine.

Clean the mushroom with a damp kitchen towel, remove the stem by breaking it off where it joins the cap (you can save it for soups) and turn it over so that the gills face upwards. If you're using truffle oil, drizzle 1 tsp of it onto the base of the mushroom. Alternatively, drizzle on 1 Tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil. The mushroom acts as a big sponge, soaking up all the oil, so more is better.

After that, sprinkle the powdered oregano on both sides of the mushroom.

Heating oil

Heat up a goodish amount of olive oil in a frying pan till it's nice and hot.

Sauteing mushroom

Fry the portabello mushroom in the pan. It doesn't really matter which side you start with, but I prefer to fry the cap first.

The other side

Of course, remember to fry the other side too. Decently-sized mushrooms should take you about two to three minutes per side, on medium heat. Try to regulate your heat, you don't want to char your mushrooms.

Sherry, and lots of steam

Pour in the sherry, which should start to boil off rapidly once it hits the pan. The idea is for the mushroom to absorb some of the liquid, but also for the evaporating sherry to steam the mushroom, softening it. You also want to boil off some of the alcohol.


Again, ensure that both sides get the sherry treatment. This should only take a minute or two, on low heat, as you don't want to reduce the sherry that much, or it'll just taste salty.


Serve with the sherry/mushroom juice. I like to serve this as a warm appetiser, along with some fresh salad, though it does just as well as breakfast.

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