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
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
Baby cos lettuce – washed and dried
Pickles on the side (optional)
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.
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?
Photography by Eric Cech