Hoisin sauce marked many a childhood Chinese restaurant trip. Until, one day at the school gates, Mum accosted Mrs Pang, an excellent cook and the mother of a schoolfriend, and asked how she could make it at home. Mrs Pang introduced Mum to a tinned sauce available at our local Asian supermarket, and there began at home what is known as ‘The Time of Hoisin’, where we ate the stuff on or with everything, including mushrooms.
Although you can still buy the tinned sauce, it is very sweet, and besides, it’s much more satisfying to whip up this approximation in a matter of minutes.
Portobello mushroom and hoisin sauce pancakes
You will need to source fermented or salted black beans for this recipe – a worthwhile endeavour, because you can use them in my recipes for mapo tofu or burnt garlic and black bean noodles. You should be able to find them in your local Chinese shop or online. You’ll also need two large baking trays – mine are around 40cm x 30cm.
Prep 15 min
Cook 25 min
Serves 4 as part of a larger meal
8 spring onions
12 large portobello mushrooms (1.2kg), cleaned and cut into 1cm slices, or brown or shiitake mushrooms
4 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1½ tsp Chinese five spice
4 tbsp smooth peanut butter
2½ tbsp brown rice syrup, or 1 tbsp light molasses/agave syrup, or brown sugar
1½ tbsp rice-wine vinegar
3 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp salted fermented black beans, crushed in 4 tsp water, or jarred black bean paste
12 Chinese-style pancakes (they’re only flour and water, and not hard to make at home)
Vegan mayonnaise, to serve
Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Lay the spring onions on a chopping board horizontally, cut in half, then shred into long, thin strips. Halve the cucumber, scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon and discard, then cut the cucumber into the same length and width as the spring onions.
Put the sliced mushrooms in a large bowl, toss in the sesame oil, distribute evenly across two big baking trays (there will be some overlap) and roast for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk the five spice, peanut butter, rice syrup, vinegar, soy and black beans to make the hoisin sauce.
After the mushrooms have been cooking for 20 minutes, put them all on one of the two baking trays, pour over the hoisin sauce, toss to coat, and return to the oven for five minutes, just so the sauce heats through and goes sticky. Meanwhile, warm the pancakes according to the packet instructions.
To serve, spread a warm pancake with a little mayonnaise, top with some mushrooms, a few slices of spring onion and cucumber, roll up tight and eat.