Shiitake Claypot w/ pickled shallots

I’ve been wanting to post this shiitake claypot and pickled shallots recipe for ages. I also just realized I tend to post a lot of non-Asian recipes in this blog; which is fine, don’t get me wrong, I love non-Asian food but if you know me well, you’ll know I’m crazy about Asian flavors. I don’t know if it’s the chilli, the condiments or the amazing array of aromas that differ totally from the food I was brought up with, where the most exciting ingredients were black pepper, paprika or a bit of cayenne if we were feeling adventurous that day.

I left Spain when I was really young. Moving to London where there’s people from all over the world had a lot to do with my culinary mind shift. You get exposed to all sorts of foods there. That’s where my love for Asian food started. Now, even my 3 year old loves Asian cooking, it’s what we eat at home most days.

Asian cooking is all about the condiments. I love them. I think life (and food) would be boring without them! Asians know how to make bloody good ones and they are damn right about using them in everything they cook, because they take food to the next level. This recipe might not be as Asian as it gets, but it’s a good introduction for those uneducated pallads, plus the pickled shallots are insanely good. I always double or triple the recipe so I can keep them in the fridge. They are pretty addictive.


Serves 4

100g whole dry shiitake
2 cups rice
2 cups shiitake soaking water
1 tbsp normal soy sauce

1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
A good splash Shaoxing wine

1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1 heaped tbsp confit garlic
A claypot (you can use a normal pot too)

For the confit garlic

3 heads garlic
3 fresh bay leaves
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp ground white pepper

For the pickled shallots

200g shallots, thinly sliced
2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup organic apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon sugar

A pint-sized glass jar

You can make the first 3 steps in advance.

1 – First, make the confit garlic. Peel off the skins and gently smash the garlic cloves but don’t break them completely. In a small saucepan, combine the garlic cloves, bay leaves and oil. Simmer over low heat. stirring occasionally, until the garlic is evenly golden brown on all sides, about 12 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and transfer the rest of the mixture to a blender. Add the fish sauce and pepper. Blend until smooth.

2 – Soak the shiitake in a litre of boiling water for 30 mins. Remember not to discard the liquid, you’ll be using it to cook the rice. When the mushrooms are ready, get them out of the liquid and set them aside.

3 – Whilst the shiitake are soaking, make the pickled shallots. Place the sliced shallots in a pint-sized glass jar. Sprinkle peppercorns over the top. Combine water, vinegars, salt, and sugar in a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring to integrate the ingredients. Remove from the heat, and pour the brine over the shallots. Seal the jar, and bring it to room temperature. You can store in the fridge for up to six months, but I doubt it they’ll last that long.

4 – Place the rice in the claypot and cover with 2 cups of the shiitake liquid and the Shaoxing wine. Put the lid on and let it sit for an hour.

5 – After an hour, slice the mushrooms and put them in the pot with the rice. Give everything a good mix. Turn the heat on and bring the rice to a boil over a medium heat. As soon as it starts boiling, put the lid on and turn it down the lowest setting. Let it simmer for 10 mins.

6 – In a small bowl, mix together the confit garlic, soy sauces, fish sauce, sugar, and white pepper. After the ten minutes have elapsed, uncover the pot and pour the sauce evenly over the rice. Cover it back up and simmer for another 3 minutes. Serve with the pickled shallot on top.

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