Pickled Shiitake Mushrooms, Stir Fried Lotus Root, Crunchy Edamame Beans and Dash of Chilli and Ginger, Gives This Healthy Lotus Root Brown Rice Salad A Whole Lot of Kick That Is Perfect as A Meal on Its Own or As A Comforting Side Dish for Entertaining.
What Are Shiitake Mushrooms?
Originating from East Asia, shiitake mushroom is very popular in Chinese, Japanese and Korean cooking. It has a dark brown cap with a stumpy stem. You will find them most commonly dried but increasingly now in Australia, you can purchase fresh shiitake mushrooms at your local Asian grocery store or fruit and vegetable green grocer. I find the fresh shiitake mushrooms more delicate and less woody than the dried versions.
Shiitake mushrooms have many health benefits therefore are used in various supplements. Low in calories, shiitake are also high in fibre, vitamin B, zinc, folate plus other vitamins and nutrients. It also has a long history in Chinese medicine. It is thought to boost health, longevity and improve circulation hence why you will find it in tea form as well.
There are many ways to cook shiitake mushrooms – in classic miso soup, stir-fry with tofu, steamed with fish, stewed with pork or deep-fried in tempura batter. Considered to be a “meaty” vegetable, it is very popular with Chinese vegetarian cooking.
What is Lotus Root?
As the name suggests, lotus root is the root of a lotus flower. The stem of the lotus flower grows underwater and embeds itself at the bottom of the lake or pond. It looks like a long tubular object and can grow up to 4 feet long. Once sliced open horizontally, lotus root appear a lot like bicycle wheels.
Packed with vitamin C and good levels of iron, vitamin B and other minerals like magnesium and copper, lotus root are a well loved vegetable in Chinese cooking for its distinct taste and health benefits. You can eat it raw, pan-fried, added in soup and stews or steamed. And of course, my kids love it best deep-fried as lotus root chips AKA renkon chips.
Lotus root are crunchy when eaten raw or lightly cooked but changes to a fibrous potato-like texture when boiled or stewed. Just like tofu, lotus root have a plain delicate flavour on its own but has the ability to absorb the flavours of other ingredients which makes it perfect in soups and stews.
Why I Love Pickled Shiitake Mushrooms, Lotus Root and Brown Rice Salad
I really wanted to try pickling my own shiitake mushrooms. I had tried them once in a sashimi rice bowl at my local Japanese cafe and was hooked. It added the extra zing that was needed. Ideas started spinning in my head on how I could incorporate them in a delicious salad.
Shiitake mushrooms are one of my favourite mushrooms with rich umami flavours. They are also brilliant in absorbing other flavours as it sucks in the broth or liquid it makes contact with. The combination of sweet, sour and salty marinade in this recipe takes shiitake mushrooms to another level and creates a delicious flavour bomb in your mouth.
Well actually, I love all Japanese mushrooms! One time I couldn’t decide which mushroom to use so I made Marinated Japanese Mushroom Salad with Sesame Spinach using as many as I could find on the day!
Even though brown rice can be quite dull and sometimes considered to be a bit “too healthy” I do love the nutty taste. The firm and slightly chewy texture of brown rice works better in salads than white rice as it can take on bold flavours.
With the added pickled shiitake mushrooms, stir fried lotus root, crunchy edamame beans and dash of chilli, this brown rice salad ain’t boring at all. Delicious and healthy at the same time.
How to Make Pickled Shiitake Mushrooms, Lotus Root and Brown Rice Salad
How to Pickle the Shiitake Mushrooms
For this lotus root brown rice recipe, I have used fresh shiitake mushrooms as I prefer the slightly more delicate umami flavour but dried shiitake mushrooms work perfectly well and would coax a more deep earthy taste. You can make more and store in the fridge. It will keep for up to 1 week. Fabulous as a side dish with steamed rice or cold soba noodles.
For fresh shiitake mushrooms, give a good rinse under water, trim stems and thinly slice them. Set aside for pickling.
For dried shiitake mushrooms, soak them in a large bowl of 1 ½ cups of hot water until mushrooms are soft enough to slice. This could up to take 20 minutes. Then remove mushrooms from soaking liquid and give them a good squeeze to remove excess water. Remove mushroom stems as they can be quite tough and thinly slice. Do not throw out the soaking liquid. Set aside for pickling.
Roughly peel and slice ginger into 2-3mm thickness. Think of round coins.
In a small pot, place all marinade ingredients together – water, rice wine vinegar, tamari, ginger, mirin and brown sugar. If you have used dried mushrooms, you can use the soaking liquid for the mushrooms instead of fresh water listed. Mix well then add sliced mushrooms.
Over medium heat, bring ingredients to boil and then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool down. Set aside for assembly.
The longer you pickle the mushrooms, the deeper the flavour therefore you can prepare this the day before. However, a quick pickle would work as well. I let the mushrooms sit in the pickling liquid for 30 minutes whilst the rice was cooking and that was fine for my meal.
How to Cook Perfect Brown Rice
Growing up I was taught to cook white rice in a rice cooker. It was so simple, a few push of buttons and voila we have cooked rice. But with the various kinds of rice available now and the different textures, I have since learnt to cook on the stove top too! For some rice and grain varieties, I prefer it on the stove top as I can check and adjust water level if required.
So how do you cook the perfect brown rice? In a pot, place 2 cups of brown rice and give it a good rinse under running water to remove excess starch. Then add 4 cups of water in the pot to cover the rice.
Bring water to boil on the stove top, then turn down to low heat. Cover pot with lid and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Check rice to see if water is fully absorbed and rice is cooked through.
Remove from heat and stand pot covered for another 5 minutes. Use a fork to fluff up the rice. Set aside for assembly.
How to Cook Edamame Beans
Edamame beans are fresh young soybeans packed with protein. They are readily available at most Asian grocery stores in the freezer section. Some bigger supermarkets may also stock them too. You can purchase them deshelled / hulled or still in its shell.
For a tasty snack or side dish, I often purchase edamame beans in their shells and pan fry them with a little sea salt and chilli flakes. My kids generally can’t stop eating them. They love pushing the beans out of the pods. Great way to entertain the kids with healthy snacks!
For this vegan brown rice recipe I bought edamame beans already hulled. Bring a pot of water to boil, add a pinch of salt and then add hulled edamame beans. Cook for 5 minutes and then drain. Rinse with cold water and set aside for assembly.
How to Cook Lotus Root
Place frozen sliced lotus root in a bowl and then add boiling hot water to defrost the slices. Drain lotus root and then pat dry with paper towels.
Thinly slice garlic clove.
Add oil and garlic in a large pan, stir until fragrant. Add sliced lotus root and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon tamari. Continue to fry for another 2 minutes until all tamari is absorbed and lotus root are golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat and set aside for assembly.
How to Make the Dressing
From the marinating liquid of the shiitake mushrooms, scoop 5 tablespoons of liquid into a small bowl. Grate ginger into bowl, then add the sesame oil and chilli flakes. Mix well.
Adjust dressing based on taste. If prefer a little more zing, add 1 teaspoon of rice wine vinegar. For more heat, add chilli flakes to taste.
How to Assemble the Salad
Remove pickled shiitake mushrooms from marinating liquid.
In a large mixing bowl, place brown rice, shiitake mushrooms, edamame beans and lotus root together.
Add dressing into bowl and mix ingredients well. Leave for 5-10 minutes for ingredients to fully absorb the dressing. Taste brown rice salad and adjust flavour as required.
Wash and finely cut spring onions into small rounds.
Add half of sesame seeds and chopped spring onions into bowl and mix well. To serve, sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds and spring onions on top.
You can serve this healthy, gluten-free brown rice salad into individual bowls if having as a vegan main meal or place in a large bowl and serve with main course. This delicate rice salad goes well with many Asian style dishes such as stir fried tofu, teriyaki chicken, miso glazed salmon or honey soy roasted pork. The umami flavours of this healthy salad adds depth to these savoury main dishes.
I personally loved it by itself for lunch. Earthy tones of the brown rice, zesty pickled shiitake mushrooms and crunchy edamame beans with lotus root, made it a comforting yet healthy meal.
More Autumn Salad Recipes:
Pickled Shiitake Mushrooms, Lotus Root and Brown Rice Salad
- Wash and thinly slice shiitake mushrooms. Place water, tamari, rice vinegar, sliced ginger, mirin and brown sugar in a medium saucepan. Mix well. Add sliced mushrooms. Bring everything to boil, turn down heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool down.
- Add brown rice to a small saucepan and give it a good rinse under running water to remove excess starch. Add 2 cups of water to cover brown rice and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and cover saucepan with lid. Simmer for 25-30 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked through and fluffy.
- Bring a small saucepan of water to boil, add a pinch of salt and then add hulled edamame beans. Cook for 5 minutes and then drain. Rinse with cold water and set aside for assembly.
- Place frozen sliced lotus root in a medium sized mixing bowl and then add boiling hot water to defrost the slices. Drain lotus root and then pat dry with paper towels.
- Add oil and thinly sliced garlic in a large fry pan, stir until fragrant. Add sliced lotus root and stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon tamari. Continue to fry for another 2 minutes until all tamari is absorbed and lotus root are golden brown on both sides.
- From the marinating liquid of the shiitake mushrooms, scoop 5 tablespoons of liquid into a small mixing bowl. Grate ginger into bowl, then add the sesame oil and chilli flakes. Mix well.
- In a large mixing bowl, place brown rice, shiitake mushrooms, edamame beans and lotus root together.
- Add dressing into bowl and mix ingredients well. Leave for 5-10 minutes for ingredients to fully absorb the dressing. Taste brown rice salad and adjust flavour as required.
- Wash and finely cut spring onions into small rounds.
- Add half of sesame seeds and chopped spring onions into bowl and mix well.
- You can serve salad individual bowls or place in a large bowl to serve with main course.
- To serve, sprinkle the remaining sesame seeds and spring onions on top.
- You can use fresh or dried mushrooms. For dried mushrooms, soak them in hot water first and then slice when soft.
- Pickled mushrooms can be prepared a day in advance and stored in the fridge for up to a week.
- Can be served individually as a main meal or as a side dish with other proteins such as tofu, chicken, fish or pork.
- You can mix in brown rice with other grains like quinoa, barley, bulgar wheat or freekeh if you prefer less carbs.