Mushroom Stroganoff

Smokin’ Mushroom Stroganoff: Magic Mushrooms

The original version – beef Stroganoff – comprised of just strips of beef with no onions and no mushrooms: didn’t quite fit with my eating manifesto…

It’s hard to ignore the mounting evidence relating to animal protein – red and processed meats in particular: excess heme iron, increased IGF-1, and the nitrates in processed meats. I read a lot of literature and one thing I find very thin on the ground is balance. It is very easy to demonise a particular ingredient or dish and just as easy to “superfood” another.

But for me, the overriding message should be that it is both what you are eating and what you are not eating that counts. If you eat steak and chips on a regular basis, it is not just the increased IGF-1 (red meat), the acrylamides (burnt or barbecued meat), and the free radicals (oxidised chip oil) that could be harming your cells. Just as importantly, it is the lack of protective vitamins, fibre, and phytonutrients that could be doing just as much harm. Make every meal count.

So, whether you are cutting down on red meat or never eat it, this umami-laden mushroom Stroganoff ticks all the boxes. The smokey element comes from Lapsang Souchong tea, chipotle chilli paste and smoked garlic. I served mine with root mash – for the creaminess, complex carbohydrates (= fibre), and beta-carotene (carrots). It’s also great served with black rice and rocket leaves.

The Magical World of Mushrooms

Mushrooms are literally in a class of their own: neither plant, nor animal; they belong to The Kingdom of Fungi. Unlike plants, fungi get their food by absorbing organic matter (a carbon source) from either dead matter or living hosts – which is sometimes mutually beneficial, sometimes not. The mushrooms we buy by the quarter are in fact the “fruiting bodies” that were fed by an underground network of thread-like hyphae known as the mycelium – which can grow to cover acres or may even create fairy rings. When the mushrooms do appear – normally once a year, it is to reproduce by spreading its spores. When it comes to respiration, fungi generally use oxygen and expire carbon dioxide – just as we do.

Food of the Gods

And just like humans, mushrooms can produce vitamin D. They contain the precursor ergosterol (a plant sterol) which is converted into vitamin D2 in the presence of sunlight – in much the same way 7-dehydrocholesterol is converted in our sun-exposed skin. In fact, you can add to the mushroom’s vitamin D levels by placing them, gill-side up, in the sun for up to 12 hours(1,2). This vitamin D store – as dried mushrooms – can then be eaten throughout the winter months to maintain a healthy level of vitamin D during those sunshine-poor winter months.

As well as vitamin D, mushrooms are a good source of many other nutrients including: selenium, potassium, riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), and pantothenic acid (B5).

Mushrooms were revered in ancient cultures from China, through Peru, to Egypt – the ancient Greeks called them “food of the gods”. Today, mushrooms are receiving scientific attention for their immunomodulatory activities –  their  ability to regulate our immune response. The mushroom’s  cell walls contain complex polysaccharides known as beta-glucans. These little guys get broken up and, like little pieces of a jigsaw, attach themselves to receptors which trigger a whole host of immune cells including macrophages, neutrophils, monocytes, natural killer cells, and dendritic cells(3,4,5).

It could be that mushrooms have anti-aging properties too. Mushrooms – especially Porcini (Boletus edulis)(6) – are a rich source of the antioxidants ergothioneine and glutathione. These powerful antioxidants scavenge free radicals and according to the “Free radical theory of aging” can protect us against age-related diseases such as cancer, coronary heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. Magic mushrooms, truly.

Mushroom Stroganoff

serves 2

for the Smokin’ Mushroom Stroganoff

olive oil + butter
5 cloves garlic; crushed
1 white onion; finely diced
300g mushrooms; sliced – I used King oyster and Crimini (baby Portobello) and shimeji
200ml hot water with 2 Lapsang Soughing teabags – or equivalent loose
1 tsp chipotle chilli paste
1 tsp smaked garlic paste
100ml double cream
100g Crème Fraîche
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon of prepared English mustard or Dijon mustard
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
a handful of fresh curly parsley


for the root mash

1 sweet potato
1 turnip
2 carrots
1 parsnip
100ml full fat milk
a knob of butter


For the root mash; wash, peel, and chop your root veggies. Then place them in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes – until fork tender. Drain and mash with the butter and milk. Season and keep warm.

For the mushroom Stroganoff; put the kettle on and make the tea, leaving it to infuse for 5 minutes. Take a wide-bottomed pan, heat a little butter & olive oil and cook the mushroom slices for a few minutes per side before removing them from the heat – cook them in batches if necessary. In a separate wide-bottomed pan, over a low heat, add a little oil and butter to melt. Gently cook the onion and garlic for five minutes – until soft. Stir in the pimentón, flour, chipotle and garlic pastes before adding the strained tea. Stir well before adding the cooked mushroom slices. After adding the cream and crème fraîche, season to taste. Continue to cook for a few more minutes until the sauce vis thick, creamy and glossy. Serve with rice or mash and finish with a little chopped parsley.


    5. NUTRITION REVIEWS – Beta-glucans in higher fungi and their health effects

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