An Asian Mushroom Diversion

Crimini Mushrooms, Enoki, H-Mart, King Trumpet, Lobster Mushroom, Matsutake, Oyster, White Button Mushrooms, White Shimeji -

An Asian Mushroom Diversion

I have to interrupt my current obsession with Golden Chanterelles to chat briefly about some wonderful new mushrooms I tried yesterday. I was running an errand in Tacoma and saw an H-Mart. If you're not familiar with the big H, it's a large Asian supermarket chain. They carry all kinds of weird (from my Gringo viewpoint, at any rate) and wonderful things. And LOTS OF exotic mushrooms, in addition to the normal (boring) white button variety, and criminis.

When I saw the H, my brain whispered: "Matsutakes!" In case you've never tried Matsutake, which I think is synonymous with "Pine Mushroom," it's an Asian delicacy that is wonderful basted in a miso soup-type base. It has a very aromatic pine-y flavor that you won't easily forget.

I'm told Matsutakes can be harvested in the state of Washington, though I've never yet found them. (I'm looking!) My youngest sister, Kay, lives in Bellingham and has found quite a few in the B.C. forests north of the border.

But I have found another Asian delicacy, and lots of them: lobster mushrooms, which we'll chat about in another blog.

Anyway, I pulled into the H-Mart and went immediately to their produce section. They didn’t have any Matsutakes, that I could find … but they did have a very large selection of other mushrooms, many of which I have never tried! And the prices there were decent, much better than the Gringo grocery store down the street. So I loaded up my shopping cart and brought a bunch home.

I tried two for lunch yesterday, White Shimeji (which is a white cluster mushroom with long stipes and small rounded caps, about a quarter inch to a half inch in diameter) and King Trumpet … which is a variety of white Oyster mushroom with long stipes. I know and love Oysters, which normally don’t have any stipes, and culture them in maple logs in my back yard. (More on this later.) I’ve also cultured them in straw logs indoors, but had issues when we discovered that my wife was allergic to the airborne spores! (This is a fairly common condition known as “Mushroom Worker’s Lung.”)

For the White Shimeji, I more or less followed this recipe which recommended saute’ing them in an olive oil / miso / soy sauce / parsley base, and serving them over Japanese noodles. I didn’t have any Japanese noodles handy (or miso), so I substituted thin spaghetti for the former and a combination of Hoisin Sauce and Tahini for the latter.

And, despite the substitutions, it was relatively quick and easy to prepare, and wonderful!

Preparing the King Trumpets called for a totally different kind of recipe. Following this Epicurious recipe, I roasted them, tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper. (In hindsight, I would have added some garlic, as I think it would have helped the almost Italian flavor of the recipe.) But the mushroom flavors came through nicely, and tossing some grated Parmesan cheese on top shortly before finishing added a nice crisp crunch.

Today, I’m going to try some of the other mushrooms in my cart, such as Enoki (a small, long-stiped white cluster mushroom which I’ve had in salads before, very nutty flavor) and also White Beech mushrooms.

Tonight, in the meantime, we’ll do some Stuffed & Smoked Baby Bellas on the grill!

I’ll report back.


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