I love trying new foods and experimenting with new ingredients. Mushrooms aren't really my thing, but I have a habit of randomly grabbing foods I've never had when I go to the local asian market. This time, I found King Oyster Mushrooms, which looked just different enough from normal mushrooms for me to be willing to try them. Anyway, I had never made an instructable, but it just seemed like the right thing to do, ya know?
So here goes: A mushroom main-course recipe that even someone like me, who fastidiously picks mushrooms out of pretty much any dish they're in, will eat.
Step 1: Getting Your Ingredients
To do the rest of this successfully, you're going to want some ingredients to cook with. 99 Ranch market is a great place to get them if you have one near you. Most if not all of the seasonings can be found in a standard grocery store.
For this recipe, here's what you need:
Fish sauce- A small bottle will do, but you will need scale up or down depending on how many mushrooms you're planning on cooking.
Soy sauce- Only a small amount is needed. For the truly desperate, you could even use the little packets of soy sauce that comes with Chinese food.
Garlic- Because crushing garlic is a pain, I just use the kind that comes pre-crushed. You can find this in a jar or separated into clove-sized cubes in a container. Anticipate for 2-4 cloves per four mushrooms. If crushing garlic is preferable to you, one decent sized bulb of garlic should be more than sufficient.
Lemon- You're going to need a lot of lemon. Otherwise, the fish sauce is too strong and overpowers everything. You're going to want a small lemon or two per four mushrooms.
Ghee- You will need close to a quarter cup for 8 mushrooms. Ghee can be cooked at a higher temperature than butter without burning, and is better for those with low dairy tolerance. In addition, it starts as a liquid in the bottle, so you don't have to soften it like with butter. Yay for less prep steps. Butter is also acceptable, but you'll have to watch out for burning later on.
Strip steak- You will want about 2 pounds of strip steak per 8 mushrooms. This will comfortably feed 4 people.
Step 2: A Bit of Improvisation Will Be Fine
For me, having grabbed these ingredients at random, I had never had them or seen them cooked. I looked online, but most recipes were lackluster. My recipe is the result of me taking the pieces that seemed like they would work from various recipes and making my own recipe while keeping them in mind. While I can guarantee that it's delicious, you may want to add your own spin to it, and I would heartily encourage that. Adjust it to suit your tastes. You have the recipe, but nothing is set in stone, and you can make it however you like it. This is just the roadmap to help you along your way.
Step 3: Getting Everything Ready
Not much prep in this dish in terms of washing and cutting things. Thankfully. Here's how you want to set yourself up to streamline the process later on:
Wash your mushrooms (not too much, since they absorb moisture pretty well).
Then, cut the dry bottom part off.
Wait a minute for your mushrooms to dry, then cut your mushrooms. I found that disks about 3/4ths of an inch worked best. This results in a scallop-like shape that browns nicely on both sides while containing a good amount of sauce. Cutting it thinner makes the bite less satisfying, and harder to chew. I tried cutting it length-wise as well, which results in a chewier mushroom experience. The disks are easier to do well, but doing both results in some nice variety of textures and shapes. You can include the top of the mushroom in this, or make it into a different shape. I cut and cooked the tops separately before adding them back in because they were hard to size consistently with the other parts.
Get out your other ingredients and a bowl.
Lastly, get out a skillet. Anything that can go really hot is good. Non-stick won't work because those don't handle high temperatures well, so you wouldn't be able to sear things as well.
Step 4: Start Adding Ingredients
Now we come to the making of the sauce you will be using to flavor the oysters. Order doesn't matter, just be consistent with the ratios of the ingredients.
Add the ghee to the bowl- You want a tablespoon or two. This adds a richness to the dish in contrast to the lemon and soy sauce. It mellows out the fish sauce, and prevents things from burning on the stovetop.
Add the fish sauce- About of a quarter of cup will work.
To those who haven't cooked with fish sauce: Yes, it's supposed to smell like that, and because of the other ingredients, the smell and flavor won't overpower your dish. It will mellow out quite nicely and add a pleasant richness and fish flavor even compatible with my family's American food sensibilities. I would however advise against spilling it, because that stuff is potent and hard to clean completely. Trust me, I learned my lesson so you don't have to after using too small a bowl for my sauce at the beginning.
Add the garlic- Add two cloves of garlic. If you really like garlic, add three.
If you decided to make things harder for yourself and bought a bulb of garlic rather than the pre-crushed stuff, to prepare the garlic, do the following:
Put the garlic bulb on a cutting board and smack it with the side of a knife to separate the cloves. Then take the desired cloves, position the knife with the side over the cloves (not the edge or the back), and whack the side of the knife with your hands. This will separate the peel from the cloves, and allow you to put them into a garlic press for crushing. Crush over Your bowl for easy collection.
Step 5: Finishing Adding Your Ingredients
Now that we have our most fragrant ingredients together, something needs to be added to cut through the flavor so that they don't overwhelm the dish. Fret not, a plan is already in motion.
Add your lemon- Add the juice of about half a large lemon or a whole small lemon. I really like lemon, so I used closer to a whole large lemon, but half to 3/4ths should do just fine. Bottled lemon juice doesn't have quite the same flavor, but will do fine in a pinch. My neighbors have a lemon tree, so I had easy-to-access organic lemons that I was able to just grab over the fence (with their permission, of course).
Lastly, you want some soy sauce. A dash will do - something close to half a tablespoon. You'll know it's enough when your sauce will becomes a deeper brown. This will improve depth and complexity of flavor as well as improve the visual appeal of the end result. The soy sauce will cause the color to deepen, as well as developing in color and flavor much better during the cooking process.
Step 6: Finishing the Sauce
Mix your ingredients together until fairly homogeneous. It won't be perfect since the ghee and garlic won't mix in perfectly, but do it as well as you can.
Step 7: Get Your Mushrooms
This is the point where you should get all of your cut mushrooms together. If there are any pieces left uncut, cut them.
Step 8: Soak the Mushrooms
Now you want to put the mushrooms in the sauce you just made. Put as many as you can comfortably stir in the bowl. The mushrooms absorb liquid very well, so adding too few result in them being soggier than I would recommend. The sauce is fairly flavorful, so you don't have to try to soak as much as you can into the mushrooms. A decent coating will do you just fine.
Step 9: Cook the Mushrooms
Put your skillet on the stove and put it on high. Put in just about as many mushrooms as you can fit without them overlapping.
Step 10: Enjoy the Steam
Now just wait to flip them and enjoy the steam coming off your cooking mushrooms.
Step 11: Flip the Mushrooms
Now's the time to flip the mushrooms. As for when exactly, either use your best judgement, or flip one to check. It should be somewhere between light brown to dark brown, but unmistakably cooked. Don't worry, it's hard to miss. If they look burnt, chances are it's just the color of the soy sauce after some of the liquids cooked off.
Step 12: Finish Cooking Your Mushrooms
Wait for your mushrooms to finish cooking on the side you just switched to.
Step 13: Plate and Repeat
Now that your mushrooms are cooked, get them off the heat and onto a large plate. Then repeat the previous steps until all mushrooms are cooked.
Step 14: Don't Clean Up
You read it right. Make sure not to wash your pan. That would be a waste of all that fond (the carmelized cooked stuff on the pan that's basically crystalized flavor) and a rookie mistake. Use it when cooking the meat to use all of that flavor you spent all that time creating and save yourself the hassle of having to make more sauce for the meat. The meat juices will make what's left on the pan a sauce on its own.
Step 15: Get Out Your Meat
Get your meat out of the packaging. Cut your meat into half-inch strips. I put it in the bowl I used for the mushrooms to both re-use extra sauce and save myself having to clean another bowl.
Step 16: Start Cooking the Meat
Get your steak on the pan. The pan should be on medium-high. Toss in any extra mushroom scraps that weren't nicely shaped enough to fit with the others.
Step 17: Stir Regularly
Stir the strip steak regularly. You want it to cook evenly.
Step 18: Add the Mushrooms Back
When the meat is browned, add the mushrooms back in. This will bring everything together flavor-wise.
Step 19: Mix Well
Mix your steak and mushrooms. This will allow the sauce to develop and coat everything evenly.
Step 20: Cooking Complete
At this point, your cooking is complete. Turn off the heat and appreciate what you've made.
Step 21: Plate Your Food
Now that the food is cooked, get it off the heat and onto a plate (or in bowls, whatever).
Step 22: Garnish
Garnish as you see fit. It was plenty good on its own, but I preferred it with some daikon radish, which was a nice compliment to the dish both in texture and flavor. All that's left now is to enjoy the fruits of your labor.