Trees are turning golden and red, mushrooms are popping up everywhere in our garden, and in my kitchen I can’t get enough of them either. Few things spell autumn better than comforting mushroom dishes, like mushroom risotto, creamy chestnut and mushroom tart and this current favourite in our house: warm-spiced savoury pancakes with creamy crushed peas and juicy slices of sticky portobello mushrooms.
When fried, mushrooms get a wonderful sweet and savoury umami flavour all by themselves. Marinating them before you cook them brings out that flavour even more and takes them to a whole new level. For this dish I combined large portobello mushrooms with a marinade that turns them into the ultimate snack food. It’s an Asian streetfood inspired sticky mushroom dressing, made with soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, rice vinegar and sugar. These Asian flavours work wonderfully with mushrooms, making them sweet, savoury, fresh and utterly deep-flavoured all in one bite. Obviously, the cooked result is delicious as a rice or sushi topping, or as part of stir-fries and other light Asian-inspired dishes. But it also matches perfectly with the earthy comfort food I’m craving now.
After marinating, I cook the portobello heads whole in a griddle pan. This isn’t just very convenient (simply pop them in the pan, fry them for a few minutes, flip and take out; no stirring required). Marinating and grilling the mushrooms whole also prevents them from absorbing too much of the marinade and keeps in their juices. When you cut them afterwards, your slices will be beautifully juicy and just the right amount of savoury, with nice griddle marks as added bonus.
Along with toppings to match, I’m loading the sliced portobellos on a stack of savoury pancakes. These pancakes are heroes in their own right. They’re made with buckwheat flour and chickpea flour and are mildly spiced with cumin and turmeric. Warm-flavoured and packed with complete plant protein, they make the most satisfying base for any meal. The batter in this recipe yields 4 plate-sized pancakes, or you can bake it into a stack of smaller ones to be filled like tacos.
Here I fill the pancakes with a generous layer of a quick pea mash, made with freshly cooked peas. Most of the time all I do is simply crush the peas and spoon them on without additional seasoning. I just love the pure sweet flavour of fresh peas and the way it contrasts with the savoury flavours of the mushrooms and the pancakes. But of course, feel free to stir in salt and pepper to taste, or whizz the peas with a handful of cress, to add a peppery touch.
Now simply top your pancakes with the creamy pea mash, juicy cooked peas and double-podded broad beans, sticky portobello mushrooms and fresh herbs and prepare for food bliss.
Buckwheat pancakes with sticky portobello mushrooms – serves 4
for the sticky portobello mushrooms
- 6 portobello mushrooms
- 5 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
- 4 tbsp. sesame oil
- 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
- thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar or coconut sugar
for the pea purée
- 750 g frozen sweetpeas
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- small handful of cress (optional)
for the buckwheat and chickpea pancakes
- 240 g buckwheat flour
- 240 g chickpea (gram) flour
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1½ tsp. baking powder
- 1 litre almond milk
- 400 g frozen broad beans, blanched and double-podded, or 200 g blanched podded edamame beans
- flat-leaf parsley and cress, for garnish
Brush off any dirt on the portobellos and trim the stalks. If the gills are moist and gritty, you may want to remove them by gently scraping them out with a spoon. Otherwise, depending on your taste, you can just leave them in, as I did here. Place the mushrooms, upside down, in a shallow dish.
Mix the ingredients for the portobello marinade and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Spoon the marinade over the portobellos and use your hands to spread it all over the mushrooms. Leave the portobellos to marinate for 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.
To make the pancakes, mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisking well, gradually add the almond milk and keep stirring until you have a smooth batter.
Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and lightly brush it with oil. Pour a few spoonsful of batter into the pan, to make either a pan-sized pancake or a few smaller ones. Heat the pancake until air holes appear all over the surface and the surface turns dry. Flip the pancake and bake for another minute for the second side to turn golden. Transfer the pancake to a plate and cover it to keep it warm. Repeat with the remaining batter until you have 4 large or a stack of smaller pancakes. Keep them covered until using.
To make the pea purée, bring a pan of water to a boil. Tip in the frozen peas and simmer for 3-5 minutes until the peas are bright green and just tender. Drain and reserve a cupful of the peas. Put the remaining peas in a food processor, along with the cress, if using, and whizz to a course purée. Season to taste and keep warm until using.
Heat a griddle pan over a high heat until piping hot. Take the portobellos out of the marinade. Wipe off excess marinade and remaining ginger and garlic pieces, then place the portobellos, upside down, in the griddle pan. Leave them untouched for about 3 minutes, until done and nicely charred, then turn them and heat the second side for another minute.
Take the griddled portobellos out of the pan and cut them into thick slices.
Generously spread the pancakes with the pea purée. Divide the sticky portobello slices over the pancakes. Spoon over the double-podded broad beans and the reserved peas, then serve, scattered with parsley and cress.