This recipe for Barbecued Maitake Steaks is from the Wicked Healthy Cookbook (Grand Central Life & Style, 2018), written by chefs Chad and Derek Sarno and David Joachim. The book shares special ways for making killer plant-based meals.
This is a deeply satisfying plant-pusher dish—truly eye-opening for hard-core meat eaters.
Photo: Eva Kosmas Flores.
See Laura Kurella’s review of The Wicked Healthy Cookbook here.
- 4 tablespoons, divided peanut oil or vegetable oil (or red palm oil for char siu barbecue)
- 1 pound maitake mushrooms (6-10 whole mushroom clusters), cleaned - See Pro Tip
- As needed for coating - Seasoning Texas, bulgogi, or char siu barbecue seasoning or your favorite BBQ
- As needed for coating - Sauce Texas, bulgogi, or char siu barbecue sauce or your favorite BBQ
- 1 Heat a large heavy pan (such as cast iron) over medium heat until very hot, about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil, swirling to coat the pan. Add half of the mushroom clusters and use a second heavy pan or a couple of foil wrapped bricks to weight down and press/sear the mushroom clusters. Cook for 2 minutes, then remove the weight and the mushrooms to a work surface.
- 2 Add another 1 tablespoon oil to the pan, swirling to coat. Flip the mushrooms and season the cooked side with the seasoning. Return the mushrooms to the hot pan, raw-side down. Return the weight to the mushrooms and press/sear the other side. Cook for 2 minutes, then remove the weight and flip the mushrooms in the pan. Season the newly cooked side with the seasoning.
- 3 Return the weight to the mushrooms and cook another 2 minutes. Repeat this process of flipping, weighting down, and searing the clusters until the mushrooms are condensed and pressed into crispy golden brown steaks with almost no liquid left in the pan, about 10 minutes total. Poke the mushrooms to test whether they are finished cooking. They should feel compact yet fleshy, the way the fleshy base of your thumb feels when you poke it while firmly making the okay sign. Repeat with the remaining oil and mushrooms.
- 4 When the ’shroom steaks are compact and golden brown, remove them to a baking sheet. Brush generously with a thick layer of sauce on both sides and let marinate at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Or, if you have time, marinate in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. The longer you marinate, the more flavor you’ll get.
- 5 To barbecue the steaks, heat a charcoal grill or smoker to medium low, 250 degrees F to 350 degrees F (see Pro Tip to roast in the oven). Push the coals or wood to one side to keep the heat to one side of the grill only. Throw a wood chunk or a few handfuls of wood chips onto the edge of your charcoal fire. Put the steaks on the opposite, cooler side of the grill, then put down the lid. Cook slowly until the mushrooms are heated through and charred here and there, 30-40 minutes total. Every 10 minutes, flip the steaks and brush with sauce so all sides are glazed with a thick layer. If the steaks threaten to burn, lower the heat by closing the air vents or move the steaks to a cooler part of the grill.
- 6 Remove the barbecued steaks to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice on an angle to create wide slices. You can also leave the steaks whole and refrigerate them for up to 4 days before using.
- 7 Pro Tip: Maitake mushrooms (a.k.a. hen-of-the-woods) grow in big clusters. Buy the biggest clusters you can find and keep them whole. Or use oyster mushrooms. Oysters are more watery, so be patient: They’ll take longer to firm up when you press and sear them. You could even use giant Portobello mushroom caps—minus the stems.
- 8 Pro Tip: If you don’t have a grill or smoker, you can roast the seared mushroom steaks on a baking sheet at 400 degrees F, turning and basting with the sauce until the mushrooms brown here and there, 30-40 minutes total.