Recipe: Mushroom Tacos


Listen, I get it. I fucking get it.

You don’t like mushrooms.

I understand this because, for a very long time, I didn’t like mushrooms either, and when people were like, “Why don’t you like mushrooms?” I’d answer them with, “I don’t like eating little human ears,” because eating a mushroom was, I felt, roughly equivalent to exactly that in texture, taste, and general slime factor. (Why would ears be slimy? I don’t know. Maybe someone found them in a river or an old tree stump. Maybe they’re goblin ears. Leave me alone.)

Of course, my distaste for mushrooms comes out of my childhood, which is also the time that history will one day call, THE EPOCH OF THE ERA OF THAT TIME WHEN PEOPLE DIDN’T KNOW HOW THE HELL TO COOK VEGETABLES TO SAVE THEIR GODDAMN LIVES. It’s only been in my life since that collectively we (we = white people, probably) figured out you didn’t have to boil everything, that you could roast veggies, or put them on a grill, or heat them fast and quick in a skillet. I hated asparagus and Brussels sprouts and all that, because everything was either boiled or steamed. Mushrooms, too, were ill-handled — usually, they came out of a can, a whole damn can of little gooey elf ears, and blech, yech, ugggh. No thank you. So, I determined way back when that I did not like mushrooms, no way, no how.

I’ve since changed on that point.

(I’ve since turned around on nearly all things I didn’t like back then. Point of trivia, the only vegetable I currently still don’t like is eggplant. And I know! I know. You’re going to tell me you have a recipe or some heirloom varietal or a magic eggplant you stole from a giant, but it won’t work. I try eggplant every couple years and I’m still NOPE I DON’T LIKE IT.)

So, mushrooms.

You’re going to like these mushrooms, I promise.

And that’s a money-back guarantee, so if you don’t like them, you can have your *opens an Excel spreadsheet, checks the ledger* zero dollars and zero cents back.

This is how you prepare the mushrooms.

Get some portobello mushrooms, which sound fancy but are just the mature form of some basic mushrooms. Now, I say portobello, but real-talk, I think this recipe is equally as good, if not a wee smidgen better, if you use shiitake mushrooms. You could use a whole variety of mushrooms for this — hen-of-the-woods are lovely and funky, chicken-of-the-woods taste like chicken, chanterelles hold up well. But you’ll have an easy time, I hope, finding portobello or shiitake, and if you don’t? BURN THE GROCERY STORE DOWN. Just burn it down. Tell them I told you it was okay.*

*do not do this, it’s not okay, put down the matches, firebug

How many mushrooms? I think for three people I used four or five caps. You’d need more if it’s shiitake, because they are smaller mushrooms. This is just science, and I learned it when I trained as a Food Scientist in Naples. Uhh, Naples, Florida, not Italy, sorry to disappoint.

Slice your mushrooms into strips.

Get a skillet or sauté pan.

Get it hot.

Temperature-hot, not sexy-hot. Though, you do you. If you wanna seduce cookware, I won’t judge you. As long as it’s consensual, I think we can agree you should get as kitchen freaky as you want.

Get some olive oil in there. Lube the pan. (Wait, this is getting sexy. Hm.)

Then, pop the mushrooms in there.

Here’s the great thing about mushrooms — you can’t really overcook them. Once they’re in the pan, give them a sprinkling of salt, and I like to use a little minced garlic in there too. The mushrooms are going to release their liquid (okay, though the phrase “RELEASE YOUR LIQUID” isn’t sexy, the idea kind of is?), and that’s fine — keep stirring, let them release the liquid, cook a lot of that liquid off. It’s okay that, like with meat, you start to think, these mushrooms are browning pretty good, because they are. Mushrooms like these are somewhat meaty, and it’s why you might wanna cook these in batches — you don’t wanna overcrowd the pan, because then you lose out on some of that yummy Maillard-slash-caramelization action going on.

Anyway, keep cooking them down until they’re brown and firm and mmm-licious.

Then, you’re going to add some liquid back into the party.

Add:

– the juice of one orange

– the juice of one lime

– the juice of one lemon

I call this THE CITRUS TRIO, which coincidentally is also the name of my super-cool daddy-o jazz trio, featuring Jeff Goldblum and Werner Herzog, and we will be playing the Sacramento Toot-Toot Club on January 7th mark your calendars.

(If the lime or lemons are weirdly huge, like large babies, then use the juice of halves, not wholes.)

Put the citrus juice in there.

Continue to cook down until the mushrooms are not wet, but saucy.

(Wow, still kinda sexy. I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean for it to go this way.)

That’s it.

Now you can warm up your corn tortillas and have tacos. What else you put on those tacos is entirely up to you, but for my mileage, quick-pickled onion is pretty yummy, plus a little cilantro and a smear of mashed avocado — oh and don’t forget the Cholula’s green pepper hot sauce, which is the superior hot sauce for tacos, don’t disagree with me. Also good are quick-cooked strips of green bell pepper and caramelized onions, which you will see in the image below. I mean, honestly, anything is good in a taco. Oak leaves. Actual elf ears. Whatever.

Look, here are the tacos.

THAT’S IT.

MUSHROOM TACOS.

EAT THEM.

GET SEXY WITH THEM.

GET ALL CAPS WITH THEM.

GET FUNKY WITH THE FUNGI.

And I’m out.


30 responses to “Recipe: Mushroom Tacos”

  1. I know this is wrong of me to do, but: Peter Chang’s Szechuan Dry Fried Eggplant (Lightly battered egg plant sticks, deep fried and stir-fried with Szechuan peppercorn and chili, scallions and cilantro–Peter Chang is a Virginia/Maryland chef with several restaurants)

  2. Replace “ear/ears” with “slug/slugs” and that’s how I felt during the Dark Period growing up with overcooked mushy canned vegetables – especially mushrooms.

  3. Grow your own eggplant. I’ll refrain from a sexified description of this, but it’s simple enough. You can do it. Totally different taste.

    For as much love as you have bestowed upon the glorious mushroom, sautéing green pepper is treating her like a cheap whore. Roast them bitches! Briefly on your gas stove/grill or even in the broiler. You can’t rise the mushroom up to pedestal status only to serve up slimy peppers. Blech. No.

    Though pepper preparation withstanding, your mushroom tacos sound divine.

  4. What the fuck? You should write a cook book. Because you GET it. I well know the horrors of That Awful Time in America.
    Can you say “canned spinach”?

  5. I recall being ASTOUNDED when I grew up and realized you could cook vegetables in ways other than boiling the crap out of them (and that they could be bought FRESH, not just in cans or as frozen lumps inside a plastic bag). Like you, I can’t abide eggplant and I still have an aversion to brussels sprouts (my sister and I used to say, “Brussels sprouts make your pee smell funny”, which was true, and probably still is); however, I’m willing to try your recipe (above). I’m also going to try your mushroom tacos over the holidays – thanks for sharing!

  6. I still don’t eat fungus. Sorry.

    Nor do I eat avocado (unless guacamoled beyond recognition) – and yes, I am a youngish homeowner, much as I dislike to fuel the avocado toast fire. Which is the best thing to do with avocado toast in my opinion: set it on fire.

    My palate has developed since childhood, though: I used to hate olives and now I scoop them straight out of the jar when I think no one’s looking.

  7. Alternatively you can find some large flat mushrooms, sprinkle with Rosemary and Thyme and introduce to an oven for 15-20mins, then serve with pan fried Halloumi thats been dusted in paprika. If you like can be accompanied by pearl barley and sausages of your choice 🙂

  8. I was also one of those people who dreaded the thought of consuming fungal-type materials. For the longest time, whenever I thought of mushrooms, the 1963 Japanese sci-fi flick “Attack of the Mushroom People” came to mind. (I love that movie!) Then, at some point, I experienced a culinary revelation and found myself enjoying mushrooms. They’re one of the few vegetables (so to speak) I can eat cooked or uncooked. I’ve had mushroom enchiladas, but never mushroom tacos. Another culinary surprise! Thanks, Chuck!

  9. Made these tonight. An amazing amount of flavors in one bite. Salty-meaty-garlic-citrus of the mushrooms, crunchy peppers and onion, creamy avocado, and we added cilantro-lime rice and some cheddar. This recipe has entered the rotation. And I second the cookbook idea.

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