Every so often a restaurant dish is so good, so inventive, yet so simple that I can’t wait to try it in my own kitchen. The grilled shiiktake mushrooms with sesame oil on the menu at Semilla (one of my favorite Paris restaurants) are such a creation. We’ve dined in this Left Bank place at least a half dozen times in the past year, and on every occasion either my husband or I have ordered them. They arrive, stemmed but left whole, usually a half dozen or so on a small plate. A sprinkling of chives and a few pools of sesame oil are the only garnishes. One bite of the tender fungi scented with fragrant toasted sesame oil and you’d be smitten too.
During a visit a few weeks ago, I asked our waitress for the recipe, and, smiling, she responded, “Mais c’est très facile!” Then she explained that the shiitakes were seasoned with soy and sesame oil and quickly pan grilled. A few days later I tried them in my petite French kitchen, and discovered that were indeed effortless, and took only a few minutes to prepare.
I decided to expand the recipe by pairing the shiitakes with lamb chops and snow peas, using sliced green onions in place of chives and adding a sprinkle of sesame seeds as well. The entire meal took less than 40 minutes from start to finish, but it looked as if it took far more effort than what was required. In fact, it could even have passed for a special restaurant meal!
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Sesame Lamb Chops, Sautéed Shiitakes, and Snow Peas
10 to 12 oz shiitakes
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
8 loin lamb chops cut 1-inch thick and 3 to 4 oz each
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 green onions including only two inches of the green stems, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1 1/2 tsp toasted sesame seeds (see note)
10 to 12 oz snow peas trimmed
1.Remove and discard the stems from the mushrooms. Then wipe the mushrooms clean with moistened paper towels.
2. In a medium bowl whisk together the soy sauce and the sesame oil. Remove half of the sauce and place it in a shallow dish. Add the mushrooms to the bowl and toss them well to coat with the mixture. Add the lamb chops to the shallow dish and toss to coat well. Marinate the lamb and mushrooms for 20 minutes.
3.Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add 2 teaspoons salt and the snow peas. Cook just until crisp tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain in a colander and cover with a clean kitchen towel to keep warm.
4. Place a large, heavy skillet over medium high heat and when hot, add the mushrooms starting with the white sides down. Sauté until lightly browned on both sides and tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 2 1/2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate, salt very lightly, and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.
5. Return the skillet to the heat and when hot add the lamb chops. Sauté until rosy pink inside (check by making a small slit with a sharp knife in one of the chops), 3 to 4 minutes per side. Season the lamb lightly with salt and pepper.
6. Place two chops and some snow peas on each of four dinner plates. Spoon some mushrooms on top of the chops and garnish with green onion. Sprinkle the chops and snow peas with sesame seeds. Serves 4.
Note: To toast sesame seeds, place a small skillet over medium heat and when hot, add the seeds. Cook, stirring often, until the seeds are golden brown and fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes or less. Watch carefully as they can burn quickly. Remove and cool.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2015