maitake mushroom with ginger/carrot sauce

When a fridge clearing experiment goes really well, you remember it. We had some curried carrot/ginger soup that was pretty good by itself. One of the big things I’ve learned this year in the vegetarianism is to stack layers.

Ginger/carrot soup/sauce
4 large carrots, peeled, diced
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves minced
1 thumb of peeled ginger cut small as possible
2 tsp of curry powder
Chicken stock*
Heavy cream/butter*
Sherry vinegar, 1 tbsp

In a sauce pan over medium to lower heat, add the veggies, and soften. You’re not looking for color change here.
Sprinkle the curry powder over the veggies and allow it to incorporate a little bit.
The liquid: you have a choice here. You could add coconut milk, and that would be really good. You can use chicken stock and latter augment with butter. You could go the route of heavy cream and dilute either with water, chicken or veggie stock.
Do whatever you want. Make sure it’s seasoned. The point is to turn this in to a sauce as a base for the mushroom part of the dish.

The sauce
Taste it. If you went with more of a lower fat way, add a little butter and to make it look nice, make sure you blend it down until it’s not lumpy. Make it taste like whatever you want, just make sure the carrot flavors come through.

The rest of the dish

The maitake mushrooms are otherwise known as hen of the woods mushrooms. They’re not particularly inexpensive, but man are they good. You’ll pay per pound for these things about what you would for certain meats. Slice them into slabs, and save the little bits that fall off. Sear over high heat with butter or butter/oil mixture until golden brown, and reserve, including the little brown bits. These are the best parts. Also, I like to sneak a little chili flakes and thyme. Thyme and butter always go together.

We’ve done the charred poblano peppers. They’re a good size, usually don’t have that much heat, and make a nice addition to any cooked veggie dish. Cut into strips.

Feta cheese or queso fresco. This is a salty topping to charred peppers that is used commonly in Mexican cooking, goes great with this dish as well.

Sriracha. What can I say? Heat is good.

Sauce: you want this to be just thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. You want intensity here, because that’s what separates a soup from a sauce. Soup is dilute, warming, nice. Sauce is POW. Don’t go crazy or else it’ll be inedible. Layer the sauce in the bottom in the bowl.

Stack the mushroom slices and browned bits on top. Poblano pepper strips over that. Cheese crumbles for garnish. Sriracha if you dare. I’ve had many a restaurant dish that couldn’t stand up to this one. This dish is really about balance in terms of texture, colors, flavors, etc. If you want to substitute portabello, button, shiitake, chantarelle, you can easily do that. Instead of sliced peppers, maybe a pepper puree. Maybe even a bacon dashi broth instead of the carrot soup base. This is not an end product.


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