Vegan Mushroom Larb
by Iona Berry
Most of us grew up with meat as the hero of our meals and with vegetables taking up the mere corners of our plates. It can be hard to know where to start if you're trying to flip the script and cook plant based meals that don’t feel like just eating a plate full of sides. Building an exciting, yet satisfying meal around vegetables - whether that’s a bunch of carrots or a humble head of cauliflower - can sometimes feel like a little daunting and underwhelming task.
Our new series, Veg and Two Veg is here to tackle just that and to explore all of the ways in which every day vegetables can be the star of the table without sacrificing flavour or heartiness. Whether you’re cooking for one or cooking for a bunch, these recipes will fill your table with vibrant, deeply flavoured and satisfying dishes that you’ll be making on repeat.
This vibrant, colourful dish from Laos is sure to impress around the dinner table and is perfect for sharing. Larb is traditionally made using ground pork or chicken, but this version uses oyster mushrooms to replicate the typically meaty texture.
Larb is a delicious dish which originated in Laos and is also widely eaten in Thailand. One of the key elements in the dish which adds crunchy texture is the toasted rice, which is ground down to a powder and stirred through the mushrooms (this is traditional of a larb). You can make a big batch of the rice powder and it will keep for months in a sealed container or jar, so that you can make more larb easily.
1 tbsp sticky rice (or sushi rice if you are unable to find)
2 tbsp (15ml) oil
340g mushrooms (I used oyster but any mushrooms will be delicious) chopped into small pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp ginger, minced
4 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1-2 dried red chillies or 1 fresh red, finely chopped
1-2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tsp sugar (palm sugar if you can find it)
1/2 lime, juiced
1 tbsp (15ml) tamari
30g roasted unsalted peanuts
Fresh coriander, mint or Thai basil
6 lettuce or cabbage leaves, to serve
Start by preparing the rice. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add the rice. Stir often, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the rice is golden brown. Remove from the heat and then grind down into a powder, in a food processor or with a pestle and mortar. Set aside.
Next, cook the mushrooms. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the mushrooms, and let them cook untouched for 5-6 minutes until they're crisp on the heat facing side. Stir them, and continue to cook them for 4-5 minutes until crisp throughout. Sprinkle them with salt.
Add the ginger, garlic and chillies. Continue to cook them down for 5-6 minutes or until any water that was released from the mushrooms has cooked off.
To make the dressing, add the sugar and lime juice together in a bowl and stir to combine. Add the tamari and then mix that through the cooked mushrooms.
Add the chopped peanuts, ground rice, chopped coriander and mushrooms into a bowl and mix together. Check for seasoning and tweak the acid/salt/heat flavours to taste.
Serve in lettuce leaves or slices of white cabbage and top with extra peanuts and chilli flakes.
By Iona Berry
Iona is our Development Chef, aka our go-to girl for developing, testing and tasting delicious dishes for you to all enjoy at home. When she’s not in the kitchen, you’ll find her either running or cycling, or trying out food markets and new restaurants around London. Continuous market research it would seem.