My Love for Mushrooms
My love for mushrooms was born when I was in my teen years in my Thai village. The village is surrounded by mountains on one side and rice fields on the other. It was a perfect place for wild foods. I learned to gather wild vegetables such as bamboo shoots and green and ginger family rhizomes, and of course I picked some wild orchids for myself on the way home. There were also many rubber plantations. The dried falling branches from the rubber trees were a source of firewood and rubber tree mushrooms called Hed Kreng. They are a typical mushroom that grows only on the old rubber trees which cover most of the southern peninsula of Thailand.
In Seattle, I enjoy various mushrooms and we are in luck, there are plenty of fresh mushrooms from local mushroom growers.
If you are hesitant to cook this recipe for any reason, I want to reassure you that this dish is packed full with flavors and received a five star rating from an admirer on yelp.com.
HED MOK PHUKET
Servings: 4 (one parcel per person)
We used to gather Hed Kreng mushrooms from old rubber tree trunks and bring them home for my mom to make my childhood favorite, Hed Mok (Grilled Mushrooms). I recreated this recipe by using brown button mushrooms that have a flavor similar to Hed Kreng. While creating this recipe, I recalled my vivid memories of how my mom prepared them, and the taste and aroma that I used to savor. The intense flavors of basil, chili, and earthy mushrooms come alive. An important part of this recipe is to grill or bake the mushrooms over high heat to intensify the flavor. Also, use coconut cream rather than coconut milk so the mixture won’t get too wet.
1 teaspoon fish sauce 1 tablespoon red curry paste ½ teaspoon sea salt ¼ cup coconut cream ¼ cup shallots, sliced 1 pound brown button mushrooms, brushed and sliced 1 cup Thai purple basil leaf 4 Thai chilies, halved 4 parchment papers (12”X16”) or banana leaves
Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a large bowl, mix fish sauce, red curry paste, salt and coconut cream together until blended. Stir in shallots, mushrooms, and basil until mixed.
Divide mixture into four batches, and place each batch in the center of a piece of parchment paper. Fold the parchment paper over to make a bag; try to make it as flat as you can so the heat will distribute equally. Lay the bags of mushrooms on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Serve with warm steamed rice.
Pranee’s note: Oyster, button, or Portobello mushrooms would all be great for this recipe, or you can use a combination of them. Wrapping the mushroom mixture in banana leaves and then grilling them creates another depth of taste and aroma.
© 2011 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen I Love Thai cooking Pranee teaches Thai Cooking classes in the Seattle area. Her website is: I Love Thai cooking.com .