Portobello mushrooms are famous for their meaty texture and earthy taste. Vegetarians like them as a substitute for meat in sandwiches, pasta sauce, and casseroles, and carnivores like them because they add a distinct texture and flavor to a wide range of foods. Many cooks use portobello marinade prior to sautéing or grilling to enhance their flavor. Uncooked, these meaty mushrooms also respond well to oil and vinegar types of marinade that enhance their flavor and soften them slightly, making them a perfect addition to the salad bowl.
Unlike meat, these delicious alternatives needn’t remain in a portobello marinade for as many hours as red meat does because their fibers are much easier to penetrate. The purpose of mushroom marinades is solely to add complexity to their innate flavor, whereas meat marinades also tenderize the meat. Marinating portobellos for as little as 20 minutes is sufficient to allow the flavors of the ingredients to combine with the flesh of the mushrooms.
Portobellos, like other mushrooms, are as delicious raw as they are cooked. Fans of eating raw foods, vegetarians, and meat eaters alike enjoy cleaning their plates when they’re served “filet mignon” created with portobello marinade. The deeply flavored marinade combines olive oil, shoyu sauce, and garlic, along with cardamom and umeboshi paste; this soak is also wonderful with other veggies. Diners can consume the mushrooms as they are, dehydrated for a couple of hours at a low oven temperature, or panfried. Dehydrating the portobellos condenses the flavor and makes a more meat-like texture rather than drying them out to the consistency of cardboard.
A simple but lovely portobello marinade for grilled or sautéed mushrooms is made of a glug or two of white or red wine with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce in equal parts. Some minced garlic rounds out the flavor. After marinating for 20 minutes or so, the mushrooms bake for 30 minutes in a medium-hot oven.
A variation adds a tangy lime high note. This marinade, like nearly all mushroom marinades, uses a good-quality olive oil, preferably extra virgin, as the foundation. Adding the juice of a lime or two and some basil, parsley, or cilantro is the next step. A lot of minced garlic complements the bright lime flavor. In this recipe, the cook pours the marinade over lightly sautéed portobellos, allows several hours for the flavors to mingle, and serves the mushrooms as a cold appetizer with rustic bread.