I recently read an article about the steps you can take to avoid senility. And one of the things it said to do was to study a foreign language, which is great because it's one of my favorite things to do. I feel like learning a language is like decoding some secret that reveals awesome things like being able to ask for directions and figure out where those bathrooms are. Ok, I know, learning a language is not as rare as Indiana Jones in search of the grail, but I think it's pretty awesome nonetheless.
But I don't always have the time to attend language classes or hop off to some foreign land for cultural immersion -- especially not right now. My compromise? I tell myself that by cooking dishes with cool foreign names I get to learn a new word with the added benefit of food to eat. And when I do study a language, I get obssessed with words that just sound cool when you say them including the words: cacahuetes, champignons, bresaola, and bulgogi. Are you seeing a food trend? Because it's there.
But back to champignons (Frenchy for mushrooms) and bulgogi because I combined them in this rather great dish. Not only is it a vegetarian take on the Korean BBQ classic dish, bulgogi, but because, in attempt to fire off those anti-senility synapses, I get to say things like, "Would you care for any more champignons bulgogi?" Or at least that is what I will say when I serve this at my upcoming party.
finely minced (about 3 tablespoons)
(from a 2-inch piece)
quartered and thinly sliced
separated into leaves
thinly sliced (optional)
thinly sliced (optional)
Whisk soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, and sesame oil together in a nonreactive container and set aside until ready to use.
The marinade can be made up to 2 days ahead. Store refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil in a large (10-to-12-inch) frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers and wisps of smoke come off the surface, add the onion. Cook, stirring rarely, until translucent and charred, about 3 minutes. Remove to a large bowl and return the pan to the stove.
Add another 1 tablespoon of oil and add 1/3 off the mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally until browned and all liquid is cooked off, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms to onion mixture and repeat twice more to cook off all remaining mushrooms.
The mushroom mixture can be made up to 2 days in advance. Store refrigerated in an airtight container and warm up over medium heat before serving.
Meanwhile, place half the marinade in a small saucepan and cook over medium high heat until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
Add the remaining (non-reduced) bulgogi marinade to the last batch of mushrooms, add reserved mushrooms and onions and stir to coat through. Cook until marinated is reduced and the mushrooms are coated a light glaze, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add reduced marinade and scallions and stir through.
To serve, place a few spoonfuls of brown rice in a lettuce leaf, add a few spoonfuls of mushrooms, then top with any of all of the desired toppings.
Food styling by Aida Mollenkamp // Photography by Christopher Kalima