This super-simple dish borrows a Viet cooking method called kho, which is traditionally done in a clay pot and often involves letting ingredients gently simmer in their natural juices. There is little fanfare or effort, but the method creates deep flavor. Recipes such as braised pork in coconut caramel sauce reflect the influence of classic kho preparations.
I came up with this mushroom version to satisfy my frequent desire to eat low- or no-meat meals. The mushrooms develop a wonderful meatiness and a terrific little sauce to mix into rice. Add Sriracha Tofu made with extra-firm tofu and stir-fried leafy greens or a salad for a light meal. The mushrooms are fine as part of a steak dinner too. If fresh dill and cilantro aren’t available to brighten the dish at the end, use another fresh herb, such as chives.
2½ tablespoons virgin coconut oil
1 pound medium or large cremini or white mushrooms, dark ends trimmed
Rounded 2 tablespoons chopped shallot or yellow onion
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons Madras-style curry powder (preferably Sun brand)
Fine sea salt
⅓ cup roughly chopped fresh dill or cilantro
In a 2-quart pot or covered casserole, combine the coconut oil, mushrooms, shallot, garlic, and curry powder. Add 2 or 3 pinches of salt and give things a gentle stir to roughly combine, then cover and set over medium heat. When you hear bubbling, turn the heat to medium-low and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring midway through the cooking time.
When the mushrooms are soft, fragrant, and have released a fair amount of liquid, uncover the pot and let simmer briskly for 2 minutes to concentrate flavors. Throw in the dill, give a stir, and then turn off the heat. Partially cover the mushrooms and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes to concentrate their flavors, then taste and season with more salt, if needed.
Present the mushrooms in the cooking vessel (if it’s appropriate), or transfer to a shallow bowl. Either way, serve warm.