This is a dish I stumbled upon whilst trying to recreate something I’d eaten a long time ago, when I was still living in London. A friend’s visiting mother very kindly invited me to join them for dinner at a lovely Japanese restaurant that was well out of my student budget league. It was a lovely evening and the first time I’d eaten such a fancy meal in that city — and so everything stayed with me longer than it perhaps would have under different circumstances. Years later, I stumbled upon a dormant taste-memory that came back in vague and tantalising pieces: mushrooms that were chunky and not slimy, black peppery heat, the tang of soy and a creamy finish thanks to ground peanuts. A couple of tries down the line, I came up with this dish. You can eat it with either steamed rice or noodles and it’s so delicious that you’d never believe it came together in under 15 minutes, prep included. It’s perfect for when you’d like to eat in — and eat well — without spending ages in the kitchen. Also when you have friends coming over and don’t have too much time. Either ways, it goes down pretty quickly — everyone I’ve served this to, including my mother, loved it.
Mushrooms have something of a bad rep with most people and I think this is because most European dishes that feature mushrooms have very thinly sliced (and often jarred) white champignons that are cooked to a rubbery texture. I love using mushrooms with flavour, like shiitake or oyster mushrooms and slicing them into chunky strips. Since the mushrooms in this recipe are pan-fried, they keep their texture and form and don’t get all glibbery. I also like mixing a couple of varieties of mushrooms but if I’m not feeling fancy, I just use oyster mushrooms, and that works perfectly as well. The peanut butter I use has no sugar at all, so make sure that yours is the same!
Fifteen Minute Creamy Peanut-Soy-Mushroom Stir-Fry
Serves two as a side
350 gm mixed mushrooms, sliced thickly (see note above)
3 spring onions, white and light green part only, finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon ghee or 1 teaspoon sunflower oil
3 tablespoons mild soy sauce or tamari
3 tablespoons warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut butter (see note)
1/2 - 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, to taste
Sesame seeds and some sliced onion greens to garnish (optional)
To make the sauce, combine the soy sauce, water and peanut butter in a small bowl. Stir gently until well combined and set aside.
Heat the ghee or oil in a medium-sized nonstick pan on medium heat. Once warm, add the sliced onions and fry for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring, until they soften and lose their rawness. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for a further 2 - 3 minutes until cooked through then sprinkle the ground pepper over the mushrooms and stir to combine. Lower the heat a notch, wait about 30 seconds and then pour the sauce over the mushrooms. Stir to combine and cook for about 30 seconds — it may start bubbling gently — until the sauce just starts to thicken and get creamy. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with sesame seeds and some onion greens and serve immediately with rice or noodles.
Prep: 5 minutes Cooking time: about 8 minutes
Images: Vatsala Murthy