Mushrooms are the meatiest vegetable—both in texture and flavor—which is why it shouldn’t be surprising that they take quite well to a marinade. And, unlike meat, the sponge-like ‘shrooms absorb flavor fast, which is always good news for the impatient.
But what of browning? Exposing mushrooms to more liquid than is absolutely necessary to clean them is supposedly a big no-no, but I’ve found that marinated mushrooms brown and crisp just fine as long as you pat them dry with a paper towel. In fact, depending on what’s in your marinade, they may brown even faster. (Sugar has a tendency to do that.) You can use your favorite meaty marinade on the mushrooms, but I’ve found oil-based concoctions and brines work best.
Photo: Claire Lower
If you want to go the oil-based route, you can enlist your favorite vinaigrette (or ginger dressing), or combine two parts oil, one part vinegar, and one part sugar (or honey, or syrup), along with herbs, spices, peppers, or any other flavor boosters you have lying around. Vinegary brines like pickle juice also work well, as does any sort of fermenting liquid you have hanging out in your fridge. (Kimchi mushrooms, anyone?) If you’re working with larger ‘shrooms, tear them into manageable pieces, scraping out the gills first if you’re dealing with portobello. Cover the pieces with your marinade, let them hang out for half an hour to an hour, pat them dry with paper towels, then sauté or roast as usual.
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