Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cremini Mushrooms in a Dengaku Style Marinade

Tofu no dengaku is a common dish in Japan where tofu is grilled on skewers and topped with various miso based sauces. While I was playing with some homemade tofu and the various miso sauce versions one night, I was thinking that grilled Portobello mushrooms would go really well with this sauce. At that point, I had yet to try grilling my own Portobello mushrooms and it had been a few years since I’ve had a grilled Portobello. I usually add mushrooms to my stir-fry or nabemono dishes or sautéed mushroom to use in a pasta dish, but I had yet to get the kids to try the larger mushrooms as the ‘meat’ of the meal.

My first attempt went well, however I didn’t get the marinade quite right and ended up burning the mushroom caps a little because of the higher sugar content of the sauce. For my second attempt, I used cremini mushrooms, which are just small Portobello mushrooms. It turned out much better and I got rave reviews from my husband who is the true test of a good Japanese meal (for which my mother-in-law’s wonderful cooking is to blame). He’s biased, but he also knows that if I ask, “how was it,” that I’m fishing for the truth as to whether I need to adjust the recipe a certain way or not.

One of the things about this recipe is it calls for umeboshi. Umeboshi is made from nanko plums and they are salt cured with shiso leaves, which gives them their unusual color. I can find umeboshi at the local health food store (a little pricy, but a little goes a long way), but we are also spoiled that my mother-in-law sends homemade umeboshi every year so that my husband can have a little taste of home in his lunches. I guess it is one of the perks of being married to an only child, but it also means that I need to use these salty plums whenever I have a chance because I know she’ll be sending more next year.

So, here is the perfected version based on the plum neri miso found in Gaku Homma’s ‘Japanese Country Cooking’. This marinade can be used on either Portobello, cremini, or even the ordinary white button mushroom. Enjoy.

Cremini Mushrooms in a Dengaku Style Marinade

2 tablespoons/30 ml Cold Mountain Red Miso-Japanese Style Aka Miso or comparable red miso

1 tablespoons/15 ml golden brown sugar

1 umeboshi plum, pit removed or 1 tsp/5 ml Eden Foods Umeboshi Paste

1 tablespoon/15 ml sake

2 tablespoons/30 ml kombudashi* or water

5-6 medium to large cremini mushrooms or 3 Portobello mushroom caps with stems removed

Wipe the mushrooms clean with a damp cloth. Cut the mushrooms in half, unless using Portobello, and place in a plastic freezer bag.

Blend the marinade ingredients in a food processor until well blended. Transfer the sauce to the plastic bag. Close and mix well, making sure that all surfaces are coated. Marinade at room temperature for 2-4 hours.

Once marinated, wipe the surface of the mushrooms clean and place in a preheated and oiled sauté pan. Add mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes before adding 1/2 cup of water then sauté for an additional 2 minutes. Turn and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the marinade to the pan and cook down ‘til thick and bubbly. Pour over the mushrooms and serve.

*Hint: I freeze my dashi in ice cube trays. Each ice cube is about 1 tablespoon in volume and this is a great way to be able to grab just the right amount of dashi when the recipe only calls for a small amount.

Portobello mushrooms in the first version of the marinade.

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