Mushrooms are generally on my weekly shopping list, and I like to incorporate them in various dishes such as quiches, crepes, curries etc. But if I am able to get my hands on beautiful fresh wild mushrooms, I prefer to cook them without a lot of additional ingredients to let their flavor really come through. Some of the best ways to do that are to stir fry or sauté the mushrooms by themselves or along with some vegetables.
I love stir-frys and simple sautés. These are quick ways to prepare veggies without cooking out all of their nutrients, while boosting flavor with seasoning and softening the vegetables just enough. However, these techniques generally involve using heated oil, thus bringing down the overall nutritional value. That’s where the water or broth sauté method saves the day!
Before I jump into how this sautéeing technique works, let’s take a look at a few cooking methods. Moist-heat cooking methods such as boiling, steaming, poaching etc. use a medium such as water, broth or steam where the pressure and temperature of the medium enables the cooking process. These are great for preserving the ingredient flavors and getting a uniform cook. However if a crispy texture or nice caramelization is desired, generally dry cooking methods using air or oil/fat are used. Sautéeing, frying, grilling, roasting etc. fall under this category. Some of these methods make use of heat transfer via conduction from the cooking vessel in addition to the heat from the cooking medium.
For the broth based sauté method, the idea is to start with a little bit of liquid in the pan, get it nice and hot before adding the vegetables, and keep deglazing the pan with the liquid as needed while tossing the vegetables as they cook. So this is kind of a combination technique using the oil free benefits of moist-heat cooking while using the conduction from the pan for browning the vegetables if desired. This method works best in a non-stick pan, but I have used cast iron skillets without any issues, especially if I’m not looking for a lot of crispiness or caramelization.
Ingredients: (Serves 2)
8 oz mushrooms (I used Oyster and Shiitake)
½ - 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1-2 Bay leaves
Vegetable broth/stock or water (preferably homemade without added salt)
Salt, crushed black pepper
Heat ~2 Tbsp broth in a pan over medium-high heat. Once it starts to simmer, add bay leaf and garlic. Let the flavors get infused for a minute or so, adding more broth (~1 Tbsp at a time) as needed.
Add the mushrooms when there is enough liquid in the pan to completely coat the bottom in a thin layer and it is simmering. Toss the mushrooms to coat with the broth, cover and cook for ~1 minute to let the them sweat. Remove lid, add more broth if the pan is getting dry and continue to cook uncovered for a couple minutes. I ended up using about ⅓ cup broth by the time the mushrooms were cooked, but this will depend on the type of pan, heat intensity and the mushrooms (or any vegetables) that you’re using. Season with salt & pepper, and add any other seasoning, herbs of your choice. Toss well and take the pan off the heat.
Discard bay leaves and serve warm as a delicious side! I served these sautéed mushrooms with simple mashed potatoes - mash boiled red potatoes (with skin) while still hot, add skim milk, butter (optional) to soften, and season with salt & pepper.
These are also a wonderful addition to pasta or salads.
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