Thai Mushroom Larb
If you haven't noticed, mushrooms are the new avocado. The magical edible mushroom has long been appreciated for a wide variety of nutritional and health benefits. Consider some of the following characteristics of edible mushrooms:
Not only are they delicious, they fit perfectly in a plant-based diet as they can easily sub for meat and fish. From a Portobello mushroom burgers to a pan-fried Maitake patty, add in more of these for a healthy boost to your daily regimen. Naturally high in protein, up to 45% by weight, they are also rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber.
- Button – helpful for metabolism and blood sugar balance. High in selenium.
- Cremini – also high in B6 and B12 vitamins.
- Portobello – similar benefits and slightly higher in protein.
Cordyceps – appreciated for reducing fatigue while boosting energy and sex drive. Also shown to help bring energy to the muscles, especially during exercise.
Maitake – (hen of the woods) is believed to have anti-cancer properties and stimulate white blood cell production.
Oyster – rich in antioxidants and anti-cancer properties, these mushrooms are also being studied to protect against HIV.
Porcini - meaty in flavor, appreciated for being anti-inflammatory and may decrease asthma symptoms.
Reishi – contain anti-inflammatory compounds and linked to stronger immunity, longevity and brain function, they can also help reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure.
Shiitake – appreciated for having the greatest amount of anti-cancer properties in any mushroom, these robust brown caps also contain lentinan, an anti-tumor compound.
Larb is a dish common in Laos and Northern Thailand that is usually made with chicken, pork or beef. In this recipe, I used Maitake (aka, Hen of the Woods) but you can use simple white button or cremini. Oyster mushroom will also work well here and adding a little porcini will add a some depth of flavor. Play with your combo and see what you create! I used traditional fish sauce, so it's not 100% vegan, although you can make your own vegan fish sauce (recipe link here). Enjoy!
Thai Mushroom Larb
3 Tbsp coconut aminos (or sub tamari sauce)
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 - 1 tsp fresh chili paste (sambal oelek)
1 yellow onion, diced
1 stalk lemongrass, minced*
1 large handful chard, rib removed, chopped
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
16 ounces Maitaki mushrooms (can sub oyster, crimini), chopped finely
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Fresh mint leaves, chopped
Fresh scallions, chopped
Unsalted roasted cashews, chopped
In a small bowl, combine the coconut aminos, fish sauce (or sub), maple syrup, and chili paste. Set asideIn a medium skillet, heat a little coconut oil (or broth) and add the onion, lemongrass, and peppers. Cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has released and they begin to brown. Add the coconut aminos mixture, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro and some sea salt to taste. Cook for another minute or two. Remove the pan from the heat and add lime zest and juice. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Serve over cauliflower coconut rice (recipe below) and top with optional garnishes.
*to prepare lemongrass, pound the bottom end of the stalk and remove tough outer layers. Chop the bottom third of the stalk (white part) only. Discard remainder or save for making tea.
Quick and Easy Cauliflower Coconut Rice
1 small head cauliflower (or half a medium-large head)
1/4 cup coconut milk, as needed
1 large Makrut lime leaf, pounded to release flavor
Wash, trim and pat dry the cauliflower. Using the large openings of a box grater, grate the cauliflower into "rice." Heat a sauce pan to medium heat and when hot add the cauliflower "rice" and begin to stir. After a few seconds, add the lime leaf. Continue to stir and then add a little coconut milk to add a little moisture, flavor and to keep the rice from burning. Remove from heat after 1-2 minutes and add lime zest. Remove lime leaf before serving.