Simmered Shiitake (or Shītake no Nimono)
The shītake (Lentinula edodes) mushroom is native to temperate regions in east Asia. Its name comes from “shī,” the Japanese name for the Japanese Chinquapin tree (Castanopsis cuspidata), and “take,” the Japanese name for mushroom. It should thus not be surprising that Japanese Chinquapin logs are the traditional substrate on which the mushroom is grown. However, outside of Japan many other species in the Oak family are used. The oldest mention of shītake mushrooms dates back to A.D. 199 at the time of Japanese Emperor Chūai, and they have been cultivated for more than 1,000 years.;
FOR MORE ABOUT BENTO AND ITS COMMON RECIPES, SEE JAPANESE BENTO.
• 20 dried shītake mushrooms
• 2 cups soaking water
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup mirin
• 1/4 cup sake
• 1/4 cup soy sauce
1. Soak mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes. Cut off stems, and score the top of each cap with 3 to 4 shallow cuts. Save the stems for other recipes, like Monk's Loaf.
2. In a saucepan combine the reserved soaking water, sugar, mirin, sake, and soy sauce. Heat to boiling, stirring continuously. Add the scored mushroom caps.
3. Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour until the sauce is reduced to less than 1/2 cup. Let cool and serve.
Jeff Nekola has a PhD in Ecology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has a passion for biodiversity in its many forms, whether it be plants, butterflies, and land snails in the wild or crops grown in gardens, orchards and fields, or the use of those foods as expressed by the entire range of humanity's cuisines. You can learn more here.
Linda Fey's first and finest childhood memories are of helping her mother and grandmother in the garden and then bringing in freshly picked produce to the dinner table. As an adult, she has over 20 years of experience in market gardening and teaches middle-school English at the Albuquerque Institute for Math and Science. Visit www.LindaFey.com to view her writing about food and life.