Indonesia's famous satay typically features chicken, grilled on skewers and served with a spicy peanut sauce. Most vegan versions I've seen sub in tofu, tempeh, seitan or another soy- or wheat-based meat substitute. As much as I love those, any one of them can be off-putting to home cooks, especially meat eaters, but even vegetarians and vegans.
Here's a version that will appeal to most everybody: Portobello Mushroom Satays. These skewers are quick to prepare and cook, and you can serve them as a fun, interactive appetizer for an omnivorous crowd or turn them into a main course with the addition of a little rice. The portobellos, the meatiest mushrooms around, are a natural. Just cook in a grill pan or skillet (or, weather permitting, head outside to the grill). The sauce comes together easily - a quick blend of peanut butter, ginger, lime juice, ground ancho chile and water with a little toasted coconut for a dash of sweetness and crunch. Eaters can dip, sprinkle and devour.
The recipe, from "Vegan in 7" by Rita Serano, lives up to the author's promise of easy plant-based recipes built from a smart - and short - ingredient list. That's something we all can get behind.
Portobello Satays With Peanut Sauce
Yield: 4 servings
6 portobello mushroom caps 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 3/4 cup peanut butter 1 teaspoon ground ancho chile pepper One 2-inch piece peeled, grated ginger root (2 tablespoons) 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari 3/4 cup hot water, or more as needed 1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil 1 cup unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut
Soak 8 wooden skewers in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes.
Scrape the dark gills from the mushrooms and discard, if desired (this keeps the mushrooms from turning black when you cook them). Slice each cap into four thick strips. Thread three slices lengthwise onto a skewer, and repeat with the remaining mushrooms and skewers. Sprinkle lightly with salt and let them sit while you make the sauce.
Combine the peanut butter, ancho chile, ginger, lime juice, tamari and hot water in a blender; puree to form a smooth, pourable sauce. If it seems too thick, blend in more water, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the sauce is the consistency of cake batter. The yield is about 1¾ cups.
Heat a grill pan or large skillet over medium-high heat and lightly coat with the oil. Cook the mushroom skewers, a few at a time, until the mushrooms are tender, 6 to 7 minutes on each side.
Meanwhile, toast the coconut: Heat a nonstick or heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the coconut; cook, stirring frequently, until it turns golden brown. Transfer to a bowl.
Serve the skewers with the sauce and coconut on the side, allowing guests to dip and coat as they like.
Nutrition information per serving (using half the sauce): 350 calories, 11 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 30 g fat, 15 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 340 mg sodium, 6 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar.