At first glance it looks like a regular juicy beef hamburger. Once you take a bite, however, you’ll know this isn’t what you first thought it was. The “beef” is not beef but a large cap of Portobello mushroom.
Nevertheless it has a meaty taste, which makes it a good substitute for a beef burger.
I first tasted Portobello mushroom burger in Syracuse, New York, many years ago. My family and I had lived there a long time ago, and sometime in the ’90s, we decided to go on a sentimental visit to this upstate New York town. One of the large supermarkets was giving free tastes of the Portobello mushrooms that they were cooking on the spot. The “burger” tasted hefty, earthy and substantial, making it a very close variation on the beef burger. My kids and I loved it.
For a while I’d cook Portobello mushroom burgers occasionally at home. However, because Portobello mushrooms weren’t always available in the market (and because they were quite expensive), I relegated the recipe to a half-forgotten corner of the kitchen.
Recently, however, I saw a pack of Portobello mushrooms in SM Supermarket, reasonably priced at just over P300 for a four-pack. What memories it brought back.
Back home I lost no time in resurrecting my recipe for this old favorite. And when I cooked it, I found my memories had not betrayed me; it was as delicious as I remember it to be.
Portobello Mushroom Burgers
4 large Portobello mushrooms
Cooking oil, for brushing
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
¼ c balsamic vinegar
Juice of one-half lemon
1 tsp sugar
4 slices onions
Salt, to taste
4 hamburger buns, sliced in halves
4 slices fresh tomatoes
Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Discard the stems and wash the mushrooms well. Pat dry with paper towels.
In a bowl, blend well the garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and sugar. Marinate the mushrooms in the mixture for about 15 minutes, turning once.
Meanwhile brush a grilling pan with cooking oil. Turn the heat to medium. Grill the onions until the edges turn brown and the onions are softened. Remove the onions from the pan and set aside.
Brush the grill pan again with cooking oil and turn the heat to medium. Remove the mushrooms from the marinade and reserve the marinade. Season the mushrooms with salt to taste.
Grill the mushrooms over medium heat for about two minutes on each side, or until the mushrooms are tender, brushing frequently with the marinade. You may also want to gently press the mushrooms occasionally with a heat-proof spatula to flatten them.
Transfer the mushrooms to a plate and cover to keep warm.
Toast the buns then line them with lettuce leaves. Arrange the grilled mushrooms on the lettuce leaves and add the onions and tomatoes. Serve immediately. Makes four servings.
A substitute for Portobello mushrooms is shiitake mushrooms. Choose mushrooms that are large, with evenly brown caps.
If desired, serve the mushroom burgers with cheese, to make a mock cheeseburger.