Oyster Mushroom Bao Buns
Bao – soft, slightly sweet steamed buns stuffed with a mixture of barbecued meats, vegetables, herbs, and pickles – are a popular street food snack across China and Southeast Asia. This version uses hoisin sauce (classically served with Peking Duck) and Chinese five-spice but takes the vegan route with firm-textured grey oyster mushrooms. Vary the accompaniments as you wish, but try to offer some crunch and a bit of sourness to contrast the soft, savoury-sweet mushrooms. Lay out separate little dishes and let everyone assemble their own buns at the table, perhaps with some ice-cold beers to hand.
- 150g oyster mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 clove garlic, grated or crushed
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoons vegetable oil
- A few drops of sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- ½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice
- 6 bao buns (you could also use Chinese pancakes or soft white bread rolls)
- A selection of wild leaves, such as winter cress, hedge garlic, wild mustard, lady’s smock or hairy bittercress
- 1 small carrot, peeled and shredded
- 1 red chilli, finely sliced, or sriracha sauce
- 4 tablespoons chopped roasted salted peanuts or cashews
- Lime wedges
- Using a pastry or mushroom brush, clean the oyster mushrooms. Trim the stems and cut or tear any large ones into 4cm slices. Put them in a large mixing bowl, and add garlic, ginger, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, oils, lime juice and five-spice. Stir well to coat the mushrooms evenly, and leave to stand for 20 minutes.
- Set the accompaniments (except for the buns) out in small dishes for diners to help themselves.
- Set a large frying pan over a high heat. When the pan is hot, add the mushrooms and all of their marinade. Cook the mushrooms, without stirring too frequently so that they brown and caramelise in patches, for about 15 minutes, until the mushrooms are softened and the juices are almost entirely reduced.
- While the mushrooms are cooking, warm the bao buns as directed on the pack. Wrap them in a clean tea towel to keep them soft and set them out among the accompaniments.
- Transfer the cooked mushrooms to a warm serving dish, take it to the table and let everyone dig in.
Recipe and photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK