[Disclosure: As co-owner of The Recipe Redux, I was compensated to manage this contest. I am not eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. Opinions expressed are my own.]
There are just some dishes in life you never forget, you know?
Like, I can recall eating Bourbon-Pecan French Toast the morning after my engagement in 1997 like it was yesterday. Seriously, it was that good. And I also remember an amazing Apple Cake that was served after my grandfather's funeral almost a year to the day the following year. I'll never forget my grandmother's cornbread or my mom's potato salad. I guess in many ways, certain dishes live in our memories because of the people, places and times associated with them.
But Larb? I'm not really sure why it owns me, but I know it does. To be specific, Surin West's Larb is my favorite. If you aren't familiar with Surin West (and if you aren't now or never have been a Birmingham, Alabama resident I'm guessing you aren't), it's the stuff legends are made of. I remember the first time visiting Surin as a young food editor at Cooking Light Magazine, and being told by friends "You must try the Larb!" And then every visit afterward, whoever I dined with would always ask "Have you ever tried their Larb?" If hashtags were a thing back then, it would've gone like this #ILoveTheirLarb #MustTryTheLarb #SurinsLarbRocks
But of course Larb isn't unique to Surin... you've probably ordered it as laap, larp, lahb or laab at your favorite Thai place. It's essentially ground meat (Surin's was always chicken) seasoned and spiced with lots of fresh mint and red pepper. Served with cabbage for scooping and wrapping, it's as satisfying an eating experience as you'd ever want. Seriously. #LoveMeSomeLarb
But what many Surin Larb lovers didn't know was that Surin also offered a tofu version (which I also loved. If you don't know of my love of tofu, read about it here). But I will concede that tofu isn't always the easiest leap to make in getting people to try a vegetarian version of their favorite dish.
...and that's where mushrooms come in.
This month's Recipe ReDux Recipe Contest features mushrooms in "The Trend is to Blend" promotion. The idea is to either used diced, chopped or minced mushrooms in place of some or all of the meat in your favorite recipes. It may sound like a simple idea, but I promise you what happens when you chop mushrooms and saute them to get the caramelization on every little outside edge is absolutely magical. I first experienced this technique late last winter when I attended a sponsored workshop that featured mushrooms blended with ground meat for tacos. You might think that the result would be similar to the sauteed mushrooms on steaks, etc., but it's so much more savory and filled with umami type flavors than that. I now regularly use mushrooms as part of my nacho toppings. It's a great way to add more veggies to foods you already know and love.
But wait, Regan... are mushrooms really all that great of a veggie anyway? I mean, I get that they're low-calorie. But they're "white"... so doesn't that mean they're pretty void of nutrition?
Not so fast my friend. I've said before that "white foods" notion isn't always accurate. In fact, mushrooms are a source of some important minerals that many other foods are lacking -- like selenium, copper and potassium. Plus, many varieties are now treated with UV light, making them an excellent source of the superstar vitamin, vit D (be sure to check the labels). And you don't even have to look for expensive, foraged or imported varieties to get these benefits. Your basic button mushroom works well in this dish and offers these same nutrition bonus.
Still not inspired to give mushrooms a whirl in your kitchen? What if I tempted you with your own chance to win?
In addition to the Recipe ReDux Contest the Mushroom Council is sponsoring this summer, they're also hosting a Swap It or Top It contest right now on Facebook. (Click here to enter).
And if you aren't ready to #LoveTheLarb, visit the other Recipe ReDux entries below to see how they're blending with buttons and more this month!
ad: A vegetarian twist on the classic Thai Chicken Larb. You'll love the sweet, spicy, savory filling! Tweet this
- 1/2 of an orange zested and juiced
- 1/2 of a lime zested and juiced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 (8-ounce) packages white button or cremini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped (I pulsed in my food processor)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Cabbage leaves, shredded carrots and additional chopped fresh cilantro and mint
- 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter (optional)
Combine orange zest and juice, lime zest and juice, oil, tamari and ginger; set aside.
Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet; add mushrooms and saute 5 to 7 minutes or until caramelized. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of reserved juice mixture to pan, scraping to loosen browned bits from bottom of pan. Season with cilantro, mint, red pepper and salt.
Serve mushrooms warm with cabbage leaves and additional toppings for wrapping and scooping. If desired, combine peanut butter with remaining juice mixture to serve as a thicker dressing/dipping sauce or serve sauce as is.