Do you know what I love about doing the world food challenge? It puts me way out of my comfort zone and forces me to keep trying new things. Once you become an experienced home cook, it's very easy just to settle down and cook the same favourite dishes (or style of dishes) again and again and again. There is nothing wrong with that of course, but it means that sometimes you don't get motivated to try anything new.
I did a lot of research leading up to this month's Costa Rican world food challenge, lots of googling, reading and asking people who know a lot more about Costa Rican food than I do. One thing kept coming up time after time - people kept telling me to make ceviche. Ceviche is very popular in Central and Southern America, it's a dish consisting of fish which has been marinated in citrus juice. Technically the fish is raw, but the acidic nature of the citrus juice 'cooks' the fish. It seems that in Costa Rica ceviche is popularly made using sea bass.
I'm sure you can understand why I initially dismissed the idea of making ceviche - as I cook vegan food, fish is not a part of my repertoire! But it kept coming up! So many people talking about all the ceviche in Costa Rica.... and eventually the idea crept into my head that maybe I should take on this challenge. Obviously I can't use fish... so I decided to substitute gorgeous firm fleshed field (portobello) mushrooms. Similar to pickling mushrooms - soaking the raw sliced mushrooms in something acidic cooks the mushroom flesh and fills it with juicy flavour.
Did it work, I hear you ask? Beautifully! I'm not going to tell you it tastes like fish! It doesn't, it tastes like mushroom. Juicy tangy limey mushroom! They're very strong tasting and pack a bit of a sour punch so I don't recommend you just eating them on their own out of the bowl - but they're a sensational accompaniment to a meal or as an addition to a salad. I served them up to dinner guests and they were incredibly popular!
2 field (portobello) mushrooms
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
Juice of 7-8 limes (it needs to be enough to completely cover the sliced mushrooms)
2-3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Wash the mushrooms and remove the stems. Slice thinly and lay flat in a shallow flat dish. Sprinkle with the chopped onion.
2. Combine the lime juice, 1 tbsp coriander, garlic, salt and pepper pour over the top of the mushrooms, covering them completely (it's ok if they float up a bit).
3. Place in the fridge and leave for at least 6 hours, I left mine in for 8 hours. You could also leave them over night.
4. Just before serving, sprinkle the remaining fresh chopped coriander over the top.
This month I'm featuring lots of delicious food from Costa Rica.
Check out my other recipe posts: