This luscious blend of maitake, shimeji, and nameko mushrooms is sautéed to golden perfection before being pickled in a tangy, umami-packed marinade. With a playful kick from the red chili flakes and a fresh herbal zing from some basil, this easy Japanese mushroom recipe creates a tangy, sweet appetizer that's equally at home alongside a holiday roast as it is on top of a cheeseburger. Since it's best prepared at least a day in advance to give the flavors a chance to meld, it's the perfect make-ahead dish for entertaining.
Why This Recipe Works?
- You don't need to use the same mushrooms as me, but using a trio of mushrooms provides a contrast of tastes and textures that makes this dish more interesting.
- Taking your time sauteing the mushrooms in olive oil induces Maillard Browning, which creates
- The combination of vinegar and brown sugar creates a tangy sweet marinade that makes this delicious on its own or the perfect side dish to accompany roast meat and seafood.
- Letting the mushrooms marinate for a day allows the flavors to meld together which makes this a great make-ahead dish for entertaining.
- Mushrooms - Using a medley of these Japanese mushrooms lends the dish a symphony of flavors and textures. Maitake is meaty and full of umami, shimeji has an earthy flavor and firm texture, and nameko has a nutty aroma and unique slippery texture. This marinated mushroom recipe will work with any of your favorite fungi like white button mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, shiitakes, or portobello mushrooms.
- Olive Oil - I like using extra virgin olive oil to saute the mushrooms because the green flavor makes for a nice contrast to the earthy mushrooms. You can also use a more neutral oil such as canola or grapeseed oil.
- Red Pepper Flakes - Because these mushrooms are served at room temperature, I like to add a bit of heat to them by using chili flakes. If heat isn't your thing, leave the red chili peppers out or substitute something milder like garlic, ginger, or black pepper.
- Salt - The mushrooms get marinated after cooking, but I also like to add a bit of salt while sauteing the mushrooms. This not only ensures they're seasoned all the way through, but it also draws out their juices faster, speeding up the browning process.
- Basil - Fresh basil brightens up the nutty and earthy mushrooms. I've also made this using other fresh herbs such as oregano, parsley, green shiso, or mitsuba.
- Vinegar - Vinegar forms the base of the marinade, and I like using one that's fairly mellow, such as rice vinegar, red wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar. This lends a clean, crisp acidity to the marinated mushrooms, which is key to balancing the dish's flavors.
- Sugar - The molasses content of dark brown sugar adds a caramel flavor to the marinade that beautifully complements the earthy mushrooms. I used an unprocessed Japanese sugar called Kokutou, but any natural sugar will work.
- Soy Sauce - Soy sauce is the primary seasoning for the marinade that compliments the nutty flavor of the mushrooms while boosting their umami. I like using my dashi soy sauce for this recipe because it gives the umami an additional boost, but regular soy sauce will also work. If you want to make this gluten-free, just use Tamari or coconut aminos.
- Scallion - Freshly chopped scallions serve as an excellent garnish, adding both flavor and a fresh, crispy texture. Chives will also work.
How to Make Marinated Mushrooms
Begin by trimming any tough stems or growing medium attached to your mushrooms. If your mushrooms were cultivated indoors, you shouldn't need to do much to clean them, but if they were foraged, you'll need to clean them well with paper towels or a mushroom brush.
If your mushrooms are larger, you'll want to cut them into bite-sized pieces.
Once your mushrooms are ready, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat and add the mushrooms, red chili flakes, and salt. The mushrooms will release a lot of water at first, but as this burns off, they should start to brown. This is the Maillard reaction occurring, which will give the marinated mushrooms their meaty aroma and depth of flavor. This should take about 5 to 6 minutes.
When the mushrooms are nice and browned, add the brown sugar and basil and stir-fry until the basil is fragrant and vibrant green. Now, remove the pan from the heat and add the vinegar and soy sauce. It's important to do this off the heat, or the acetic acid will boil off, leaving your marinade lacking tartness.
Transfer the mushroom mixture into a jar or container with a lid and allow it to pickle for at least a day or up to three days in the refrigerator. This marinating time lets the flavors meld together, enhancing the flavor of the entire dish.
When you're ready to serve your Japanese mushrooms, plate them up in a bowl and garnish with freshly chopped scallions or chives.
Serve it With
Although the mushrooms in this recipe are Japanese, the flavor profile isn't particularly Asian, which makes it super versatile. Try serving a pile of these marinated mushrooms on crackers or crostini smeared with goat cheese as a canapé. They're also delicious as a flavorful topping for salad and pasta or as a filling for sandwiches. Served alongside a roast chicken or smoked lamb, these Japanese mushrooms make for a refreshing condiment, and they also work a similar magic as a topping for hamburgers. They could even be served as a main dish for a holiday vegan feast.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 500 grams mushrooms (I used a mix of maitake, shimeji and nameko)
- red chili flakes (to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 12 grams dark brown sugar (about 1 tablespoon)
- 5 grams basil (sliced into ribbons)
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar (apple cider vinegar will work as well)
- 1 tablespoon dashi soy sauce (regular soy sauce will work)
- 1 scallion (chopped for garnish)
- Trim any tough stems or growing medium from 500 grams mushrooms and clean them as needed. If you are using large mushrooms, you may want to cut them into smaller bite-sized pieces.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan over high heat, then add the mushrooms, red chili flakes, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir-fry until the mushrooms are cooked and starting to brown around the edges (5-6 minutes).
- Add 12 grams dark brown sugar and 5 grams basil, and mix them in until the basil is vibrant green.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add 2 tablespoons rice vinegar and 1 tablespoon dashi soy sauce and stir to combine. Transfer the marinated mushrooms to a container with a lid and let them marinate for at least a day or up to three days.
- To serve the mushrooms, plate them up and garnish with chopped 1 scallion or chives.