Hello everyone. Did you read the last blog post and come to the store to get some fish and squid that are on sale? We hope you did. We'll introduce more Flavors of Fall - mushrooms today!
Matsutake, or pine mushrooms, are famous in Japan for their smell - distinctly spicy, and slightly sweet, with pine-like earthiness - and are infamous for their price - sometimes up to $1000 per kilogram. Despite their rarity and price, matsutake are incredibly popular and considered one of Japan’s most quintessentially fall foods. We carry them only this season every year, and they are back this year as well, in limited quantities. A big part of what makes the steep price of matsutake comes from the difficulty of obtaining them. Matsutake are known for having a very strong preference for growing on the roots of pine trees, but occasionally grow with hardwoods such as oaks. The exact nature of their symbiotic relationship with the trees they grow on is unknown, making them impossible to artificially cultivate. This means that all matsutake mushrooms sold on the market have been gathered wild from forests, as opposed to most mushrooms which are grown on farms. When cooking matsutake, it is important to be aware of their strong aroma, and the effect that has on their flavor. They will easily overpower the taste of other mushrooms, and generally don’t taste good when paired with cream or butter. Their flavor is also strong enough that when it comes to including them in recipes, less is more. They are quite tasty when sauteed simply with soy sauce, mirin, sake and dashi and served hot over a bowl of fresh rice. Matsutake are rich in nutrients as well. The aroma components called matsutakeol and methyl cinnamate stimulate appetite. Guanylic acid, a flavor component, lowers cholesterol levels. β-glucan targets cancer cells and is expected to have cancer-preventive effects. Dietary fiber is effective in regulating bowel movements and relieving constipation. Vitamin D helps maintain healthy bones and increase calcium absorption.
(Recipe) Matsutake Mixed Rice
Japanese mixed rice is usually cooked with dashi broth. However, it is unnecessary for matsutake mixed rice. If dashi is used for an aromatic ingredient like matsutake, the flavor of the dashi will interfere with the flavor of it. Even without dashi, the flavor from the matsutake is enough to make delicious mixed rice. Ingredients (for 2 cups of rice): 2 cups (12.2 fl oz./360 ml) of rice 2 matsutake mushrooms 14 fl oz./415 ml of water 1.5 tbsp of usukuchi light soy sauce 0.75 tbsp of cooking sake Japanese wine 0.25 tsp of salt
1. Rinse rice thoroughly and remove rice bran. Drain the rice on a colander and place it in the rice cooker's inner pot. Pour 415 ml of water and soak the rice for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
2. Spray the matsutake with running water for a moment. Wipe off the dirt (soil) with a paper towel in the order of the stem, then the bulk. There is no need to use a lot of force when wiping off the dirt. Just quickly stroke the surface and the dirt will be removed.
3. Cut off the root base, the hard and earthy part as if you were sharpening a pencil. Try to shave as thinly as possible, not to waste the edible parts.
4. Cut a slit in the matsutake's bulk with a knife and split it in half by hand. By cutting the matsutake by hand, the flavor and texture can be fully utilized. After splitting it in half, slice the top half thinly with a knife, and tear the bottom half into thin strips by hand.
5. Add the usukuchi light soy sauce, sake, and salt to the rice cooker with the rice from step 1, mix quickly by hand, then place the matsutake from step 4 on top and spread evenly.
6. Set the rice in the rice cooker and cook as you would regular white rice.
7. Once cooked, steam uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, stir briefly from the bottom and serve. Enjoy!
Tip: In this recipe, usukuchi light soy sauce is used to make the color lighter, but if you do not have it, you can use regular soy sauce as well. (You may want to add a little more salt in that case.)
Have you ever eaten maitake mushrooms? Among the many mushrooms in Japan's Edo period (1603-1867), they were called "phantom mushrooms," and if you presented a maitake to the shogunate, you received the same weight of silver. Maitake are semi-firm and plump with a chewy consistency with a mild, earthy, and woodsy aroma.They are versatile and used in mixed rice, tempura, simmered dishes, miso soup, and more. Maitake are nutritious like other mushrooms. Vitamin D builds strong bones. Potassium plays a leading role in preventing high blood pressure. Folic acid supports hematopoiesis. And insoluble fiber stimulates bowel movements by absorbing water in the intestines and increasing the stool volume. In addition, eating maitake mushrooms can help lower cholesterol levels because of their beta-glucan content.
(Recipe) Miso Soup with Maitake
This miso soup recipe has tofu and wakame, which are well-known ingredients in the standard miso soup, with maitake. The texture of the maitake and the softness of the tofu are a perfect match, and will soothe your mind and body. Onions, deep-fried tofu, and scallions are also good ingredients to pair with maitake miso soup. Daikon radishes, which would soak the umami of maitake, enhances the flavor of miso soup as well. Pork and a little bit of sesame oil are also recommended. Ingredients (3 servings): 5.3 oz./150 g of tofu 70 2.5 oz./g of maitake mushroom 1 tbsp of dried wakame seaweed 15 fl oz./450 ml of water 1 tsp of granulated dashi broth 1.5 tbsp of miso Directions: 1. Break maitake into pieces. Cut tofu into 0.6"/1.5 cm cubes. 2. Put water and maitake in a pot, cover and heat. 3. Bring the water to a boil and add tofu and dried wakame. 4. When it comes to a boil again, dissolve in miso and dashi stock. Tip: The aroma of miso is derived from the alcohol that is produced when miso is fermented and matured. When the temperature rises above 194°F/90℃, this alcohol-derived aroma component volatilizes and the aroma is lost. For this reason, it is best not to boil miso soup to preserve the aroma and make it tastier.
We'll introduce kabocha squash japanese pumpkin and satsumaimo Japanese sweet potato in the next blog post.
There is a lot of food items, housewares, stationery, and gifts available at the store and our online store, Maido! Kairashi Shop, where you can place your order for shipping or store pickup! Happy shopping. :)