Thursday, 10 May 2012

Honey and Ginger Mushroom

To anyone who has been kind (and unwise) enough to subscribe to my posts, let me apologise in advance for the almost non-stop, steady stream of words that has been flowing straight from my desktop to your inbox over the last couple of days. What to do? I am going through a creative phase. :)

It helps that I am currently serving out my notice period at my firm, and the powers that be have magnanimously decided to keep my final days a little light. I can assure you though, that the drivel will stop soon enough. I am looking at a summer of multivariable calculus in preparation for my masters program later this year, followed by a semester dominated by microeconomics, macroeconomics and advanced statistical methods. I reckon that the chances of being able to write at leisure about issues of gastronomic significance will therefore become considerably dimmer in the near future. Ah, but what’s the point of worrying about what is to come. Keep calm and carry on, as the Brits say. Jo hoga dekha jayega as we say in Delhi, que sera sera, as Doris Day says.  

What is your view on fungus? Not the mouldy green stuff that grows overnight on bread if you leave it out carelessly on your kitchen counter on a muggy afternoon. I’m talking about the edible variety. Mushrooms.

My earliest memory of mushrooms is not of the fungus, but of the “mushroom cut”. For the benefit of the less well informed, the mushroom cut was an aesthetically challenged hairstyle which became quite the rage among parents of pre-teens in Delhi in the early 1990s. Credit must be given where it is due. What an accurate name! The victim of the mushroom cut did in fact closely resemble a mushroom by the time the hairdresser was done with him/her. If you’re having difficulty imagining this, picture having your hairdresser cut your hair neatly around the edges of an upturned bowl placed strategically over your head so that it goes no further than your ears.The mushroom cut is what you would end up with.

If you are completely lacking in imagination, let me make it easier for you. Here’s a Wiki link on the subject, which helpfully takes you to an image of the mushroom cut. My extensive online research for this post has been a learning experience. I had no idea that the mushroom cut is in currency beyond Delhi’s borders. Or that the Amish and Delhi-ites have similar views on punishing children with disastrous haircuts (see Wiki link above). Did you know that there's a Facebook group for child victims of the mushroom cut?

In case you were wondering, I write with such passion about the subject because I write from personal suffering. I was at the receiving end of a girlie version of the mushroom cut at some point during my childhood years. When I look back at my childhood photographs, there are more than a few in which I look much like a chestnut mushroom, if you can imagine a chestnut mushroom with buck teeth and a pointy nose.

Although my early memories of mushrooms are not happy ones, I do have a fondness for them. I like their texture. I also like the fact that they gladly take on the flavour of whatever they are paired with. If only more people were like mushrooms – willing to take on the best from those around them, and soft and cuddly (I mean that in a metaphorical sense).

The recipe that I am posting today involves mushrooms in a soy-honey-ginger sauce, based loosely on this recipe which I stumbled across online. I first made it for a very large dinner party for friends, and have since turned to it a few more times. It is an incredibly easy recipe, taking no more than 15 minutes to put together if you have all ingredients on hand. Although mushrooms take centre stage in this recipe, the spring onions are critical too, both for their crunchy texture which contrasts with the soft fleshiness of the mushrooms, and for their bright green colour that livens up an otherwise dull finished product. I am pretty sure that you can substitute the mushrooms with other vegetables or with chicken, prawn etc.

Honey and Ginger Mushroom

1/8 cup each of honey and soy sauce
1 tsbp + 1 tsp sesame oil
1.5 tbsp cornflour dissolved in 2-3  tbsp water
250 gms sliced mshroom
1/4 cup sliced green onion
2 tbsp grated ginger
Salt to taste
1 tsp crushed black pepper
2 whole green chillies
Around 1/4 cup water (to be adjusted - see recipe)

In a bowl, combine the honey, soy source and 1 tbsp sesame oil until evenly mixed. Heat a pan, add 1 tsp oil sesame oil followed the ginger and green chillies. Stir until the ginger is golden brown. Next add the mushrooms and a few pinches of salt. Let this cook on medium heat until the mushroom is done. Now add the crushed black pepper and the honey mixture. After a few minutes, add the cornflour paste, while stirring continuously. As soon as the cornflour is added, the mixture will become glutinous. Gradually add a little water, bit by bit. I'd say use half the water first and see if you are happy with the consistency and the intensity of the flavours used in the sauce, and then add more water depending on your preferences. Adjust the seasoning. Finally switch off the heat and add the sliced green onion. Serve piping hot with rice. Enjoy :)

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