Every time I post a mushroom recipe, I get at least a few comments from people saying they (or someone they cook for) refuse to eat mushrooms. The reason mushrooms get so much hate is nearly 100% because of bad cooking technique. It’s true – in their raw form, mushrooms have a spongey texture and a bland flavor which isn’t exactly the most appetizing thing in the world… but when they’re cooked correctly, you won’t find a plant with more delicious, meaty flavors than this one.

So today, I’d love to share my favorite mushroom cooking technique that I’ve actually been working on for quite some time. It starts by marinating some portobello slices in balsamic vinegar for a few hours, then sautéing over high heat with soy, the right spices, and just a touch of maple syrup until they reduce and caramelize several times, locking in layers and layers of flavors.

They make a great snack on their own, but I’ve also got an awesome rice bowl recipe below with these mushrooms, avocado, greens, and pickled carrots.



Makes 4 Rice Bowls


  • 4 large portobello mushrooms
  • 2-3 tablespoons balsamic
  • 2-3 tablespoons soy
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon + 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 avocado
  • 3 cups cooked rice
  • leafy greens
  • 1 carrot
  • green onions
  • sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (optional)


^ Before picture. This is why most people hate mushrooms.

Cooking the Mushrooms

  1. Grab 4 portobello mushrooms and slice them into thin (1/4 – 1/8 inch) slices.
  2. Add the slices to a gallon-size ziplock bag with 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and gently shake around until the mushrooms are evenly coated. Allow to marinate in the fridge for 1-4 hours.
  3. When ready to prepare, open a corner of the bag to drain out the excess balsamic and add the mushrooms to a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add in a tablespoon of soy sauce, a dash of garlic powder, and a dash of cayenne pepper, then give these guys 5-7 minutes to sauté. The mushrooms will release liquid and that will keep them mushy and prevent them from caramelizing, so carefully drain this liquid from the pan and save it in a ramekin for later.
  5. Repeat the step above: add another tablespoon of soy sauce and more of the spices and let the mushrooms sweat out the rest of their liquid (another 5+ minutes). Again drain this liquid into the ramekin.
  6. One final time, add a little more soy sauce and maybe a little more spices, but also add just 1 teaspoon of maple syrup and crank up the heat for these last 3-4 minutes. Toss regularly. The mushrooms will get much darker and more caramelized. When all the liquid has been absorbed / evaporated, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Making the Rice Bowl

As mentioned, these mushrooms can be enjoyed as is, maybe with some green onions and sesame seeds, but they also make an excellent topping for a simple rice bowl. Here’s how to make it:

Cook about 3 cups of white or brown rice and add to the base of serving bowls.

Top the rice with some of the mushrooms, slices of avocado, a handful of fresh greens (I used arugula, but chopped kale, spinach, or lettuce would also work), and some shredded carrots.

(Variation: The carrots are great plain, but if you want to make them more exciting, I actually combined shredded carrots + daikon radishes (because I grow them in my garden) with some rice vinegar and refrigerated them while the mushrooms were marinating.)

Garnish each bowl with a generous sprinkle of chopped green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

Finally, remember the cooking liquid we saved in the ramekin? Return that liquid and another tablespoon of maple syrup to the mushroom skillet and simmer over medium heat, to deglazed the pan. Give this soy/vinegar solution 3-4 minutes to dissolve all those tasty caramelized bits from your pan, creating an awesome sauce that can be drizzled over the rice bowl. Note: If you want some extra sesame flavor in this glaze, add a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil as well.