A beautiful vegetable salad with full-flavored mushrooms, Mexican herbs, and a crunch of Arame popcorn.
By Julia Sherman
I suppose it would be obvious to say that when I travel, I spend most of my time wandering through food markets, asking questions about the local produce and culinary customs, putting things in my mouth and taking pictures. But, even more valuable than this brand of aimless exploration, is this experience of shadowing a local chef as they make their way with purpose through their local haunts, shopping for an event or maybe the ingredients for a salad? Last week, I had the pleasure of doing just that with musician, thinker, chef and Mexico City native, Hugo Duran.
Hugo has had many lives and traveled the world, and is now back in his hometown, putting together private events, initiating pop-ups and collaborating with designers to rethink the way we brand, prepare and think about some very traditional Mexican ingredients. Hugo took me to a host of his favorite markets, and we even ate ceviche at the specialty Mercado de San Juan, before going off to make his own version (there’s nothing like pre-gaming for a vegan meal with some corvina sashimi fed to you straight from the fish monger’s hands). From the market we went to a friend’s design firm, where Hugo unpacked his backpack full of knives, cutting boards, his apron and mortar pestle, and we prepared our salad with a view of the city.
Though the intrigue of this recipe is that it is indeed vegan, this marinade would work beautifully with a firm flesh white fish to make a more classic ceviche. Hoja Santa is a commonly used Mexican herb that can be found at your local Mexican grocer, if you are lucky. It has a slight anise flavor and is lovely and bright. If you cannot find it, use a pinch of fennel fronds. Sea beans are fabulously crunchy little succulents that taste of sea brine, and can be found at your specialty grocer.
- ⅓ CUP FRESHLY SQUEEZED LIME JUICE
- ½ TBS PEELED GINGER, ROUGHLY CUT
- ¼ WHOLE CELERY STALK, WITHOUT LEAVES
- 1 CLOVE GARLIC
- 25 WHOLE SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS, STEMS REMOVED
- ⅓ CUP SEA BEANS (SALICORNIA)
- ⅓ SMALL RED ONION, THINLY SLICED
- 3 TBS DEHYDRATED ARAME SEAWEED
- 2 TBS COARSE SEA SALT
- ½ WHOLE VANILLA BEAN
- 5-10 SLICES SERRANO CHILI, AS THIN AS POSSIBLE
- 1 TBS THINLY SLICED HOJA SANTA LEAF
- ¼ CUP EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
- 2 TBS COARSE SEA SALT
- 1 TBS PLAIN POPCORN
- Add lime juice, garlic, ginger and celery to a blender and purée until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and reserve. This is the marinade for your mushrooms and vegetables.
- Add arame to a bowl of warm water and allow to hydrate for ten minutes. Drain the water, squeezing the seaweed to make sure it is as dry as possible and add to the bowl with the strained lime juice. Slice your shiitake mushrooms and red onion in uniform think slivers and add to bowl with arame. Break apart your sea beans if they are in larger clumps and toss to combine with the rest of the vegetables. Thinly slice Serrano chili and add to the bowl. Cover and store in refrigerator to marinate for as little as 5 minutes or as much as an hour.
- Using the tip of a sharp knife, cut along the length of the vanilla pod and scrape one half of its seeds with the edge of the knife. Add this to 1 tbs of coarse sea salt and mix thoroughly to combine.
- Just before serving, drizzle with olive oil, and add vanilla salt to taste. Serve with popcorn on the top.