Everyone goes mushroom mad sometimes. This recipe is perfect for when you’ve bought or foraged a few too many of mother earth’s favourite umami cups. It features the usual pickling spices, plus the Filipino zap of coconut vin – a taste which pairs well with the meaty mushrooms and reminds my inner child of mum’s chicken adobo. Mmm. I used Phoenix Oyster Mushrooms sourced from a lovely small-scale grower @maximushrooms (DM Maxim via instagram to order), based out the backdoor of Sydney – but you could easily get ‘em (or other varieties like shimeji, king oyster, shiitake, saffron milk caps or pine) from a good grocer (especially Asian ones) or grow-at-home kit and it’d be lightyears better than the supermarket. Pro tip: Char the mushies before pickling for bonus smokiness.
(A brief aside on coconut vinegar before we commence – Coconut vinegar doesn’t taste particularly coconutty. I used the type made by fermenting coconut water (suka ng niyog). Generally, the brown-tinged variety is made from coconut sap (sukang tuba).)
No more ado – here’s my recipe for Filipino Adobo Pickled Mushrooms:
INGREDIENTS Oyster mushrooms Coconut vinegar (Filipino brand preferred, like Datu Putti) Bay leaves Whole black peppercorns Small garlic clove, thinly sliced Non-iodised salt, a pinch
Sterilise your jars and lids by placing them on a tray in a cold oven, set to 100ºC (212°F).
Clean your mushrooms – by gently pulling them apart (if joined to a big mushroomy mass), and tearing larger ones in half. Swish them lightly in a bowl of water (no gritty gills here), and allow to dry in the sun.
Sear mushrooms – Heat an aluminium or cast iron pan on medium high heat and dry-sear the mushrooms till lightly charred (ie. no oil for max char). Don’t overcrowd the pan, otherwise they’ll stew, so doing this in batches is best. Press down the mushrooms with another pan to get an even sear. Flip and do this for all mushrooms on both sides. Set aside mushrooms. Don’t wash your pan! Add some water and boil on medium while scraping all the smoky char add this water to the water portion of the next step.
Make your pickling brine – Make enough pickling brine to fill your jars. Simmer equal amounts of coconut vinegar and water(add your smoky mushroom pan liquid here) in a small pot.
Take your jars out of the oven with tongs.
Assemble – Add 1-2 bay leaves, 4-6 black peppercorns and 2-3 THIN slices of garlic (these pack a punch) per 200ml jar (scale this up or down depending on the bigness of your jars and your flavour preferences). Add your seared mushrooms to the sterilised jars. Pour over the hot hot brine, leaving 1cm headroom. Run a knife around the inside edge of the jar to release air pockets. Tap the jar a few times and repeat. Add more brine if required and pop a lid on.
Storing – Store in a cool, dark place out of sunlight for at least 2-3 weeks to let the flavours develop. Should keep for a minimum of 1 year. Refrigerate after opening and enjoy.
This recipe was featured as part of a fermentation community celebration for Sandor Katz’ new book ‘Fermentation Journey’s (published by Chelsea Green). This screened as part of a livestream on October 10. Hosted and curated by Cultures Group.Thank you to chef Ken Fornataro from Cultures group for bringing together the fermentation community! It’s a joy to share and document our recipes, pickles and ferments in honour of Sandor’s own journey and learnings alongside many that I admire and learn from myself.
Aesop is an Australian skin-care and self-care company, known for their high-end, well-branded (and incredibly expensive) products. And there’s no bigger epitome of this than their fabled Post-Poo Drops, a toilet freshener which elicits an understated scent of Mandarin, Tangerine, and Ylang Ylang when plopped into your toilet bowl after (and this is to quote the labelling) “vigorous activity has occurred” – far more natural than those artificially pumped up floral fresheners that you find on the supermarket shelves.
The original is beautiful, and actually has a Bottomfeder-esque origin story! “This botanical deodoriser got its accidental start when discarded essential oils from our in-house lab were repurposed to scent an office bathroom. It has since become one of our most popular products” – @aesopskincare
While I originally got these delightful drops for bathroom guests, my partner and I have fallen in love with the scent. And so rather than use it too quickly, I thought I’d have a go at making this mandarin marvel myself. Just save up some citrus skins and let time and patience work their magic. Make a larger batch and gift it to friends and family, or just store it to refill your smaller bottle. The prep time is 3 weeks, and this sounds insane, but like most good preserving projects, it’s very hands-off and mostly about letting time pass…especially something we have lots of in lockdown!
First, we create our own essential oils by steeping dried citrus peels in rubbing alcohol. Commercial versions use a distiller or cold press to extract oils, but alcohol is much more accessible way to draw these oils out at home without needing all that hi-tech wizardry. I used mandarin, orange and lemon peels leftover from eating and cooking. If you want a shortcut or have essential oils on hand you could just use them, however this can be costly and this recipe came about as an elevated way of utilising those naturally zingy smelling citrus peels.
With a paring knife, remove the white pith for each of the peels.
While you’ve got your knife out, cut the peel off the lemons.
Place the de-pithed peels out in the sun to dry for approx 1 wk, keeping them separate so you know which peels are which. Turn every so often.
Put each group of peels into a separate jar and cover with rubbing alcohol, shaking the jar to ensure peels are evenly covered/submerged.
Place a lid loosely over each jar, and put in a cool dry place for 1 wk.
Strain each oil to remove the peels, and place in jars. Optional zero waste drained peel use – Store the strained peels together in a jar – these can be used as a rubbish bin deodoriser, just shake some into your bin to keep it smelling fresh. As they’ve been sitting in alcohol they’re kind of preserved.
Use paper towel and rubber bands to create a breathable lid for each oil. Then put in a cool dry place for 1 wk, shaking infrequently to stop bacteria forming.
(Optional) Store each oil in eye-dropper bottles for ease of use.
For the final mixture:
Measure 125mL of water out into a jug.
Add the glycerin and rubbing alcohol.
Use your nose to mix a balance of the essential oils to your liking. 30-40 drops total ought to be enough. Go slow and add oils bit by bit.
(Optional) Store in eye-dropper bottle for ease of use.
For blending: Mixing the scents comes down to your individual preferences. It’s very subjective, so you have to use your nose to smell what’s right for you. I found that lemon is sophisticated, bright and fresh, orange verges on that musky stereotypically grandma toilet freshener smell, and mandarin is somewhere in the middle. For me, I added approximately 50% Lemon, 35% Mandarin and 15% Orange.
To create an aroma that smells more like the Aesop original: The Aesop original post poo drops have an aroma blend of tangerine peel, ylang ylang and mandarin peel. My version omitted the ylang ylang. I wanted to see what I could make with what I had without buying extra first (I haven’t seen any wild ylang ylang around me either). I recommend you include ylang ylang (native to Queensland, but not as readily available wild to everyone) or something similar like jasmine. You can buy readymade ylang ylang oil if you want, but a lemon heavy version of these post poo drops is pretty darn good as is! It is just going down the toilet in the end anyway!
For storage: You can buy amber glass bottles with some form of a dropper to make dispensing the oils and storing your finished post poo drops easy. They’re available online and at health food stores, or reuse ones you have leftover. The amber glass also helps prevent the oils from oxidising due to heat and light.
Future ideas: I’m currently creating some lemongrass essential oil to hopefully add a bit of a floral note (I usually dry the tough ends and outer parts of lemongrass whenever I buy it. I add it to cooking and make my own ginger and lemongrass tea). Make it your own though! You could add in rosemary, lavender or eucalyptus and take it in a different direction to the Aesop version if that’s what you like. I find it helps to look at or google the blend of scents in perfumes and products you already gravitate towards and try to recreate blends inspired by those (wayyyy easier than becoming an actual perfumer).
I usually make this mushroom mince when I have a glut of mushrooms that I either forgot about or overbought from the bargain bin. Semi dried out, sad looking mushrooms are perfect for this! It’s a bonus if they’re fresh, but I’ve made this with both and it’s delicious either way. It’s an umami-rich lighter alternative to mince. My go to use for this is usually a riff on Chinese san choy bao or in a rice bowl. When I don’t have much left of this I just stretch it by adding a few spoonfuls to meals on the side.
Everything is chopped in the food processor since we have it out anyway! If you don’t have a food processor you can roughly hand chop everything up with a little more time, but definitely more love.
MUSHROOM MINCE SAN CHOY BAO
INGREDIENTS 600 g mushrooms (any mix really, I often use a mix of field, button and swiss, whatever you have or whatever’s cheaper) 1 large onion 1 cup leftover cooked white rice Canned bamboo shoots, sliced (approx 225g) Canned water chestnuts, sliced (approx 227g) 3 tsp oyster sauce 3 tsp light soy sauce 2 tsp brown bean paste* (fermented soy bean and flour paste) 2 tsp kecap manis (sweet soy sauce) 1 tsp rice wine vinegar Pepper and salt to taste
TO SERVE Coriander Sesame oil Baby cos lettuce – washed and dried Pickles on the side (optional)
METHOD 1. Heat a large fry pan on medium with a bit of vegetable or another neutral oil. Roughly halve and quarter the onion and finely chop in a food processor, then add to the hot pan with a pinch of salt and fry for 2-3 mins or until golden.
2. Add the washed and drained water chestnuts and bamboo shoots to the food processor and carefully process with the pulse function to a rough chop. Keep some texture as this part adds a bit of crunch, so some larger bits are fine. Add to the pan with the onion and saute for 5 mins. Add another glug of oil if it’s drying out then 1 tsp each of oyster, soy sauce, brown bean paste and kecap manis – mix through well – this imparts extra flavour into the chestnuts and bamboo shoots. Cook for a few minutes, then set aside in a medium bowl.
4. Meanwhile chop the mushrooms to a rough dice, in the food processor. Work in batches (depending on the size of your food processor) so the chop is even – tear large mushrooms into smaller bits for a more even chop. Do some finely, some more chunky to get variation. Be careful not to over do it as they’ll cook down and shrink. Add more oil to the large pan on medium high heat and add your chopped mushrooms and leave them, if you overmix them you’ll coax out more liquid. Letting them sit allows them to brown and set a bit of colour on the edges. The cooking time depends on your mix of mushroom varieties. I cook them until they don’t have that raw taste anymore. Should be around 5-10 minutes.
5. Throw in the chestnut and bamboo mixture and cooked rice with the mushrooms, mix well and warm through. Add the remaining sauces and the rice wine vinegar: 2 tsp oyster sauce, 2 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp brown bean paste, 1 tsp kecap manis and some white pepper. Taste for seasoning after each sauce addition if you’re not confident mixing and layering asian sauces then do a final taste for seasoning.
TO SERVE Spoon warm mushroom mince into prepared lettuce cups and top with coriander (finely sliced stems or leaves) and pickles on the side – chinese pickles, kimchi, takukan (yellow pickled daikon), do chua (pickled carrot and daikon) or just sweet sliced pickled cucumbers work well). Crunchy cucumber slices and lil’ red radishes are nice too if you have some handy. Enjoy!
NOTES: *Brown bean paste: Is a fermented soy bean and flour paste. If you cannot find it substitute with extra soy sauce to taste.
There’s so many ways to eat this, how would you do it?
Recently I made my first attempt at crafting empanadas from scratch — yes, even the pastry. I felt intense pressure to make them perfect…first go. I was bringing them to the Filipino Food Movement Australia community picnic in Sydney. So I didn’t have time for catfish recipes from liars, cheats and online recipe swindlers. I was tossing up between a few recipes…
I was sold on Dimuyaga’s recipe and after trying it and would recommend it to empanada first timers and pros alike. They’re flavoursome, straightforward, can be deep fried or baked, very economical (300g beef mince makes 40. If you, like me ‘taste test’ some filling, you’ll have a few less). One caveat — Chef Dimuyaga’s recipe was written assuming that you wanted to undertake this lengthy process all at once (read: 2 hours approx…more if you don’t want to screw it up and over google what to do – like me). No shade, but those with less cooking experience or time might find it rather daunting upfront. So after consulting several other recipes and fixing some of my own screw ups on the fly, I have a list of suggestions to troubleshoot any problems you might run into.
Have a read before your fingers are covered in flour and you’re wondering why the heck you started this so late in the day (also for my own reference next time). I’m specifically referring to Dimuyaga’s recipe, not to say it’s not a great recipe — but I just made some realisations that weren’t detailed in the recipe. If you’re following another recipe a lot of these tips might apply to that too (compare them before you blindly trust me). I’ve noticed similar questions that I worked through myself in the recipe comments of this very recipe too. You can begin prep 1-3 days ahead to break the 2 hours up, especially if you only have a small window of time after work each day or something real life realistic like an actual life and responsibilities to work around.
Some of these changes might be obvious to some pastry pros, but if you’ve never made pastry from scratch before or handled it you might not be sure what you can and can’t do to suit you. Don’t let that discourage you! This list of tips will hopefully answer your questions (if you have more post them in the comments!) as you try to google answers with your floury fingers. I made these empanadas and googled as I went. Below is a collection of my learnings and observations.
My tips for avoiding common empanada mistakes:
EMPANADA FILLING – Cook it a day ahead and refrigerate (then you’re not waiting for it to cool)
– Is my filling too salty? – When you taste the filling by itself it might seem a bit too salty. However, once it’s in the pastry it mellows out a little and becomes perfect…the resulting empanada is tasty even when eaten cold! If you’re really unsure you can create and cook one 1 test empanada in the oven before you go ahead and make all 40.
– Don’t make the cubed potato or veggie pieces too big…I did a little larger than a 1cm dice. Some potato pieces ended up piercing a few bits of pastry as I folded it over (if your pastry hasn’t been chilled for long enough this can cause it to break too easily – I was also just impatient). No big deal though.
– Meat choice – Using the beef mince suggested in Dimuyaga’s recipe created a great flavour similar to Filipino beef menudo or adobo. Some other pork and chicken empanadas felt a bit bland in comparison to be honest, but give them a go if you prefer.
Using pre-made pastry for empanadas – Use frozen shortcrust pastry if you cbf (no shame, get a fancy brand like careme if you REALLY want) and assemble empanadas on the day. Sure, they won’t be as authentic, but sometimes you just need a balance of life and homemade empanadas. They’ll still be delicious!
– Cutting frozen pastry into rounds – Cut into rounds with a bowl/baking tin or cookie cutter (find a similar diameter to the one your chosen recipe calls for). Consult your frozen pastry packet directions, but generally pastry can be refrozen once empanadas have been assembled, it’s the filling that shouldn’t be frozen and refrozen for food safety reasons.
– Chilling dough rounds – To freeze pastry rounds as you make them – put them on a tray lined with flour dusted baking paper. Layer as required, baking paper has to be between each layer of empanadas otherwise they’re more likely to stick and that’ll undo all your hard work. Cover the top layer with baking paper too to stop the pastry drying out.
Making Empanada pastry from scratch – Make the pastry up to 3 days ahead. It should keep for 3 days tightly wrapped in cling film, so it doesn’t dry out.
–Cold dough is harder to screw up – The dough is easier to work with and more forgiving the colder it is. You can tell when it’s not cold enough because it will stretch and break more easily. It’s a nightmare, especially for a first timer or someone that hasn’t handled pastry very much. If you’re finding it hard to mould your pastries and they keep breaking or the filling is piercing the dough, then put your pastry rounds back in the freezer to chill further and take a breather, you’re halfway there!
– Freeze the pastry rounds as you roll them – it takes forever for them to cool down in my at home fridge. Freezing it till they’re quite cold but still pliable will give you more time to work with them. I roll a stack of 6 or so before transferring them to a baking paper lined tray. Take them out of the freezer one sheet at a time so you don’t warm up the entire tray and have to wait for them to chill all over again.
– I think my pastry looks wrong….how do I check it? I’d create 1 or 2 test empanadas to test out both your finished pastry and the filling. The oven method might be quicker if you just want to test a couple.
Cooking empanadas – frying versus baking Now that you’ve spent hours making these babies you don’t want to screw them up, right?! Dimuyaga suggests deep frying them, I was down for that because I didn’t want to screw with perfection….till I thought about how much active cooking time it would take to fry them in smaller batches (yes, this is what I think about in my down time)…
5 mins per batch Each batch is about 7 empanadas or so (large pot, without overcrowding) Total empanadas is 40 divided by 7 (the amount in a batch) = 5.7 batches. 5.7 batches x 5mins = 30 mins….not too bad, but in an oven I don’t have to stress about bubbling hot oil, cleaning it up, straining it and my cholesterol.
I tested this and you can cook Dimuyaga’s beef empanadas in the oven from fresh or frozen. I suggest 190°C for 20-25 mins, put in 2 trays at a time and switch the trays halfway through so they cook evenly.
– Team baked empanada – don’t forget egg wash for a golden colour! Egg wash = 1 egg whisked thoroughly with a few drops of milk. If baking from frozen – put your empanadas into the oven and then once slightly defrosted (but before they start browning) brush them with egg wash. Some suggest doing the egg wash before freezing, but that just sounded like a headache, because that means waiting for the egg wash to dry so they don’t stick to the baking paper.
What’s with cracked empanadas? That’s either a result of the pastry not being chilled enough before baking or a really fragile delicate pastry. Dimuyaga’s recipe is pretty forgiving, but I froze my empanadas overnight. I didn’t want to take any chances and they turned out really well! The few empanadas I allowed to thaw out did crack a bit.
I hope this guide was helpful! If you have any further empanada questions or your own tips I missed, please post them in the comments! I’m not an expert by any means, but I wanted to record these learnings so I can apply them next time!
So late one night, my partner and I were watching a Bon Appetit video – the one where Claire painstakingly recreates a gourmet version of instant ramen – and suddenly we felt super-inspired to pimp up some packet ramen for ourselves.
We found some ageing mushrooms holding on for dear life at the bottom of the fridge. Usually I’d just throw them in with something meaty to add flavour, but I figured adding them to ramen would be a far more interesting way to use them up and extract their umami goodness.
But for any good ramen you need a good broth — and given its vital role, it’s preferable to use a homemade stock. It’s nicer than the salty store-bought versions — but in a pinch you could easily use a good quality liquid stock (with added pan-fried mushrooms), or even a stock cube or flavour packet if you really cbf.
Luckily, in the freezer, we rediscovered some frozen homemade chicken & miso mushroom stock that we decided would be an easy and tasty base. I won’t go into the detail now (of how this stock was made), but the short of it is, I’d made a regular chicken stock a few months ago, and just for the heck of it added some rich umami juice obtained from roasting huge miso-covered mushrooms. If you’re interested in the full recipe, please comment below!
From there, we got way too enthused — the resulting ramen was so light and satisfying, and although it wasn’t a thick, 24-hour tonkatsu broth, it was super flavourful for the amount of time we put into it. Enjoy!
SUPERCHARGED INSTANT RAMEN
Makes 2 servings. Cooking time 15-20 minutes.
1 litre of chicken and miso mushroom stock (or good quality liquid chicken stock)
2 bricks of instant ramen
300g almost-bad mushrooms, halved and sliced thinly*
2cm piece of ginger, sliced
Few pinches roasted ground Szechuan pepper (or white pepper)
Put 3 eggs into a small pot and cover with cold water on medium heat. Once boiling turn heat down to medium-low and start a 5 minute timer for slightly set (not runny) soft boiled eggs. Once done run under cold water till eggs are completely cool to stop them cooking.**
In seperate small bowls, rehydrate dried porcini mushrooms and seaweed with boiling water. Reserve the liquid from both to add more umami flavour to your stock in Step 4.
Heat a medium fry pan on medium heat and add 2 tsp neutral flavoured oil. Throw in sliced mushrooms with salt and ground Szechuan pepper to taste. Stir occasionally for 5 minutes or till roasty and slightly golden. Take off the heat and reserve.
Meanwhile in a medium saucepan, bring your frozen stock to the boil – adding in the sliced ginger plus the reserved liquid from both the rehydrated seaweed and porcini mushrooms. Taste your stock – if it needs more flavour add soy sauce to taste, but keep in mind when soup’s too salty you get sick of a whole bowl. Break both bricks of ramen in half (they’re probably too wide for a small pot) and drop into the pot to cook ensuring they’re submerged in the stock. Stir to ensure even cooking. Allow to boil for 3-5 minutes or till ramen has reached your desired doneness. ***
Peel eggshells off the eggs and cut each into halves. To serve tong the noodles into 2 deep bowls and pour over the soup. On top of the noodles in each bowl place half the seaweed, mushrooms and 3 egg halves. Sprinkle with a dash of sesame oil to taste.
* If your mushrooms are slightly dried out and look a bit worse for wear we can work with that – new ones are totally fine too but I just had sad ones!
*** I took the ramen off when it was al dente, with a bit of bite. This is okay as they’ll sit in the stock for a few minutes while you prepare everything else, so they’ll cook further without going too soft.
Growing up, my Filipino mum would whip big batches of chicken adobo for dinner each week. This classic mix of chicken, soy sauce, vinegar and garlic makes for a punchy flavour that hits the spot between sweet, sour and salty. 100% comfort food.
This recipe puts a new spin on that classic Filipino taste, by encasing it in a classic Aussie crust. This dish is kinda like me! A mix of my Filipino and European heritage, with banana catsup – the Filipino version of ketchup – a tropical innovation that stemmed from a WWII tomato shortage, and pairs surprisingly well with the pie.
CHICKEN ADOBO PIE WITH HOMEMADE BANANA CATSUP
Makes 4-6 pies. Cooking time 1.5hrs
1.5kg bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (thighs or whole chicken cut into 8)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup apple cider vinegar (can also use white Filipino cane vinegar or white vinegar)
½-1 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
10 large cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon butter
Banana catsup (banana ketchup)
2 very ripe bananas, mashed till smooth (approx. 1 cup)
1/4 cup eschallots, finely diced (or brown onion)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
60ml white vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon palm or brown sugar
1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon, ginger finely grated
1 tablespoon fresh turmeric, finely grated (1 teaspoon if using ground turmeric)
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
To make the chicken adobo filling place the water, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, sugar, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and bay leaves in a large pot. Place the chicken skin side down in the pan. If the chicken it isn’t covered in liquid add ½ to 1 cup water.
Bring liquid to the boil on medium high heat, then turn down to medium low and simmer with the lid on for about 1 hour (or till chicken is cooked and juices run clear). Stir and turn the chicken every once in a while.
While the chicken is cooking prepare the banana catsup. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium pot and cook the eschallots till translucent, then add the ginger, garlic, turmeric and all spice. Cook till the spices are fragrant.
Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute, stirring well. Follow with vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and mashed banana. Simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring often till it starts to thicken.
If the banana ketchup is too thick add a bit of water to reach desired consistency. To store allow sauce to cool and transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks+.
Once chicken adobo is cooked take it off the heat and allow to cool, however if the sauce is too runny remove the chicken and allow sauce to thicken on medium high heat. Next pull the meat off the bones and into bite sized pieces. Toss it with the thickened adobo sauce ready to go into the pies.
Preheat oven to 220C and place a baking tray into the oven. Grease your pie pans of choice with butter (I used a medium 6 cup muffin tin). For the pie bases cut 6 x 15cm circles from the shortcrust pastry to line the base and sides of your pie tins. Brush the top edges with water. Fill with cooled chicken adobo mix. For the pie lids cut 6 x 15cm circles from the puff pastry. Place over meat and press to seal with a fork. Trim the edges to neaten and brush the tops with egg.
Place pies onto a hot tray and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Serve with the banana catsup.
It’s a long one, but I swear it’s worth it! Deliciously crispy pastry, filled with salty-sweet fall-apart chicken, finished with a fresh tang from the banana catsup… As an extra tip for your effort: Make a double batch of the chicken adobo and freeze half of it for more pies later or to chow down with rice. You’ll thank yourself later!