At this time of year, when local mushrooms can still be found dried, it can be fun to experiment with the many different varieties. This week I bought some dried lobster mushrooms which, if you have them in your area, can lend a subtle shellfish flavour to any dish. The flavour of fresh lobster mushrooms is so similar to lobster, that you could make a convincing lobster bisque, but then of course you wouldn’t get to enjoy the mushroom’s meaty texture and hues of red and cream.
In this dish, the lobster mushrooms lend a unique flavour and substitute nicely for the more typically used shrimp. I avoid purchasing shrimp due to the unsustainable harvesting process that often results in a lot of bycatch (marine life caught in the nets and often dying in the process).
With or without the mushrooms, this dish, as with any stir fry, is a great opportunity to make use of local, seasonal produce. The flavour base of coconut and Thai curry paste is bold enough to support nearly any vegetables you can throw at it. So, I decided to use the last of the season’s cilantro and Red Russian kale, a large leek from the farmers’ market, and the lobster mushrooms. Feel free to omit or substitute these exotic mushrooms with either more neutral-tasting fungi, or a mushroom with more flavour, such as shiitake. Avoid using porcini mushrooms for this recipe as the flavours may not blend very well.
Serves 2 and is easily doubled
¾ to 1 cup (30g) dried shiitake or lobster mushrooms or other flavourful dried mushrooms (optional)
200g rice noodles
8 kale leaves, de-stemmed and chopped into bite-size pieces
2 cups chopped leek – washed, sliced vertically into quarters and then into ½ inch pieces
2 Tbsps grated of finely chopped ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 can organic coconut milk – use 4 Tbsps coconut fat from the top part of the coconut milk
1-2 teaspoons Thai red or green curry paste (add to taste, depending on the spiciness)
¼ cup crushed peanuts
½ cup cilantro leaves
1 lime cut into wedges
Add-ins or substitutions:
grated carrot or carrot matchsticks, snow peas, broccoli florets, sliced red pepper, bok choi/pak choi, broccolini or rapini, sprouts, pre-cooked lentils, tofu, or leftover chicken for protein
- Soak the dried mushrooms with boiled water in a large, heat-proof bowl for 15 minutes.
- Remove the mushrooms from the water and add the noodles; top up with hot tap water until noodles are covered. Soak for another 5-10 minutes until noodles have softened.
- Prepare the garlic, ginger, leeks and veggies before the cooking begins.
- Over medium-low heat, in a wok or sauté pan, add the 4 Tbsps of thicker coconut milk/coconut fat and the curry paste. Stir until combined, and then add the leeks, garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes.
- Turn heat up to medium and add the remaining coconut milk and the strained noodles, along with ½ cup of water and all of the veggies, except for the leafy greens. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes or until the noodles are almost cooked.
- Add more water (1/4 cup at a time) to loosen the sauce and add the leafy greens- stir until cooked.
- Remove pan from heat and use tongs to add the noodles to the plates or bowls. Top with cilantro leaves, crushed peanuts and lime juice.