October 08, 2009

Raw portobello mushroom larb salad / veganmofo 2009

We took a raw cooking class recently, and I promised to post a recipe for one of the dishes. I prefer to post recipes after I've made them myself to see how they turn out in my kitchen; that's why you had to wait for this recipe. We ended up getting home last night much later than we planned, and no one felt like making dinner. I had marinated mushrooms for the salad earlier in the day, and although it was supposed to be a starter for our dinner, it ended up being the whole meal, except for some peanut butter on crackers. The recipe is supposed to serve two as an entree or four as a starter, and I'd say that's accurate.

Larb is actually a spicy Lao meat salad. In this recipe, it's been transformed by Chefs Heather and Lois of Chaco Canyon Cafe, into a raw, vegan dish.

I started with two large (about 4" in diameter) portobello mushrooms. Chef Heather said she removes the stems when she prepares the salad at the restaurant, and uses them in other dishes. She doesn't use the stems in the salad so as to preserve the optimal visual appearance necessary at restaurants. At home, she said, she removes the stems, slices and uses them in the dish. I followed her advice, and after trimming the ends, sliced up those stems. The taste and texture of the stems was so close to the caps that I could see no reason not to do this again. The more mushroom the better.

© 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking
The most exotic ingredient in the marinade was kaffir lime leaves, which I have eaten before but have never personally purchased. You can find these at Asian markets or, maybe, natural foods stores. In Seattle, all the PCC Coop stores carry them in little plastic packs in the fresh herbs case. Kaffir lime leaves grow as double leaves, and you just separate the two leaves to use them. These leaves are pretty tough so cutting them small is important. You just roll 'em up and slice thinly, then continue to a small mince. (The lime perfume as you cut them is incredible.) How small you cut them depends on how powerful your blender is. If you have only VitaMix-envy and a regular blender, you might want to mince pretty small. I used a Kitchenaid blender and it blended everything perfectly even though I got tired of mincing before I should have. Only you can judge what's best for the kitchen equipment you have.

© 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking
The other ingredient that required mincing effort was the dulse. If you can find dulse flakes, you just have to measure, but if you use actual dulse, as I did, mince away. Half a cup of lime juice sounds like a lot but it only took two limes to get that much.

If you want the dish to be truly raw, you should use Nama Shoyu, which is organic, raw, unpasteurized soy sauce. If you want the dish to be gluten-free, you'll need to use Tamari, which is not raw but is wheat-free. I used Tamari because that's what I usually have in the house. I reduced the tamari to 1/3 cup and replaced the rest with water because I wanted the mushrooms to be a little less salty than I remembered from class. This worked well for me. Although not on the ingredient list, you can add dried ground chili if you want a spicy result.

I didn't think my mushrooms were soft enough after only an hour of marinating, and I think they ended up marinating about about four hours on the counter. You can marinate them in a shallow dish, or, as I did, in a plastic zip-close bag. I put the bag in a large dish (just in case anything should leak) and flipped it every so often. After the mushrooms were removed from the marinade, I jarred the rest of the liquid in the refrigerator to use as a marinade for something else, like tempeh. Or, you could start another batch of mushrooms.

As I was writing out the recipe I saw I made a mistake when making the marinade. The shallot was added to the blender instead of to the mushrooms. Oops. It tasted great to us but next time I'll try to do it right!

Portobello mushroom larb salad
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, washed and sliced 1/4 inch think
  • 1 small shallot, peeled and shaved paper thin
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dulse flakes
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons raw agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup Nama Shoyu (I used 1/3 cup tamari plus water to equal 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 green onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, washed and minced
  • 6 leaves fresh basil
  • 1 quart mixed salad greens, washed
  • peeled grated carrots
  1. Clean and prepare mushrooms and shallots. Place in a sealable container
  2. Place kaffir lime leaves, dulse flakes, lime juice, agave nectar, Nama shoyu and water in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour over mushroom and shallot mix.
  3. Cover and allow to marinate on the counter for one hour or in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. Prepare the green onions, cilantro and basil. Place in a large salad bowl with the salad greens and toss. Use some of the marinade (to taste) as a dressing and toss to mix.
  5. Place salad on plates or bowls and top with mushrooms and shallots. Garnish with a mound of shredded carrot.

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© 2009 Andrea's easy vegan cooking


  1. Yum--thank you! It sounds sooooo good! Did you maybe forget a step in the directions, though? You say to marinate the mushrooms over night, but you don't say anything about how to prepare the marinade...I am assuming you blend everything together except the mushrooms and salad base ingredients? And then pour it over the mushrooms?


  2. Courtney,
    Whoa. Thank you for pointing that out. Blogging so much must be melting my brain. When I made the marinade I accidentally added the shallot to the blender so you'd think I'd remember to include the correct directions!

  3. Wow, the salad looks amazing! I've always thrown away the mushrooms stems, now I know better. Thanks! :-)

  4. Chow,
    I never used the stems of portobellos either but I always use the stems of ordinary button mushrooms. Go figure.

  5. I'm so glad you attended that raw class! ;) I've never used the stems, either, but glad to know I can. And now I won't be so afraid of kaffir lime leaves!

  6. Ricki,
    I LOVED the kaffir lime leaves.

  7. Interesting larb salad! Traditionally I used loads of lemongrass, mint leaves toasted rice powder, and freshly ground charred red chiles. But I like the idea of using portobello mushrooms and I look forward to the VeganMofo. I'll be documenting my vegan eats in Buenos Aires.

    1. I think I like mushrooms cooked rather than raw, but after preparation, the mushrooms didn't seem raw, at least.


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