07 October 2014

Soy-free mushroom stir-fry

I'm out of soy sauce. I'm also out of noodles. I have pasta, but not those quick-cooking noodles like you find at the Chinese market. I have ginger, but it's seen better days. I have it soaking in a bowl of water in my fridge. I was in the mood for a stir-fry, but didn't feel like going to the market. I have to be downtown anyway on Thursday, and I'd sooner do it all at once then.

I know that there are those of you who can't (or won't?) eat soy. This is one of those times when I won't be asking you to buy a weird ingredient to substitute the taste of soy sauce, because the mushrooms have a ton of taste on their own. This recipe is important to follow pretty closely. If you increase the amounts, it doesn't work so well.

5 - 7 large white button mushrooms, cut into large chunks (this is important)
3 cloves of garlic, minced (not the kind in the vinegar; if you don't have fresh, use a few shakes of garlic powder)
2 tsp grated ginger (if you don't have fresh, skip it)
2 tsp sesame seeds
1 TB peanut oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 of a small onion, sliced into slivers
1/2 a small carrot, sliced into rounds
1/3 cup water, reserved
2 cups rice
Salt, to taste (IMPORTANT to add salt)

Heat a wide shallow skillet (or wok, preferably) over highest heat. When it gets hot, add the oil, and the mushrooms in rapid succession. Furiously toss the mushrooms around, so that they get evenly coated in oil. Let the mushrooms sizzle and squeak like mad. They will begin to get a very dark brown crust on them. If they don't, your heat is too low, or your pan is too crowded. This only works when the mushrooms have plenty of room to jump around the pan. This initial step will give the flavour for the rest of the dish, so don't skimp on this step.

Add the garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, onion, carrot, and sesame oil (in that order), and toss to cook through. When the pan gets too dry, splash in about 1 - 3 TB of water, to loosen things up a bit. This will not only prevent your food from sticking like mad, but also distribute the mushroomy flavour throughout. Add the rice, and toss through.

Salt to taste, and toss through. Adjust seasoning as needed.

If you have them (I don't) garnish with chopped scallions.

What I love about this version is that you don't have to work hard to get that good taste through the food. I know it's extremely simple in the flavour department, but it tasted pretty awesome. The version I made didn't even have the ginger or the carrots OR the sesame oil. It was just the onion and mushroom with rice (and a bit of cayenne). So tasty.