Since September is National Mushroom Month, I want to share my love of mushrooms with you, along with some recipes of my favorite childhood meals.
I love mushrooms with all my heart. They were big part of my childhood. We used to get up at 5am and head out to go pick wild mushrooms in the forest around my town. Growing season was usually toward the end of Summer spilling over into Fall. After the “hunt,” we brought them back to my mom and she would do wonders with them.
She would dry some of them, depending on the varieties, she would pickle some (mainly small Porcini ones)— yummy! She would make delicious scrambles with Chanterelles mushrooms and eggs, which was simple and incredible. Mushroom pies, pasta, risottos… the list goes on and on, but my all time favorites were mushroom soups and breakfast scrambles.
The mushroom scramble is easy to make. She would heat up a non-stick pan or a ceramic one, melt unsalted butter then add sweet onions. Once the onions were sautéed enough, she would add the mushrooms and cook them for several minutes, adding a little more butter if needed. Then she would slowly add eggs and mix, seasoning with salt and pepper. Toward the end, she added fresh chives and mozzarella for color and fresh flavor. Just a slice of crusty bread and we were ready to go.
Mushroom soup was not difficult either. In a large pot, she would use olive oil, onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and all kinds of incredible mushrooms. She would sauté everything, adding a Bay Leaf, fresh or dried thyme, and either chicken stock or vegetable stock, followed by a few large russet potatoes. That incredible aroma in the kitchen of the soup simmering is something that will stay with me for rest of my life.
Once it was ready, she would puree the soup, but not too fine so there was some texture. Of course she would take out the Bay Leaf and fresh thyme before pureeing. The soup was nice and creamy because of the starch from the potatoes. Right before serving she would add some fresh parsley and chives, crusty bread, and soup was ready to eat. My mom was really great cook.
These days I use mushrooms a lot at home and in my restaurants. One of my favorite dishes is simple side dish with Japanese King Oyster Mushrooms. I sauté sliced shallots and garlic in extra virgin olive oil and butter, but not for too long so they don’t burn. I cut the mushrooms in half and add them to the hot pan, sautéing them until nicely browned. When they “let some water out,” I take them out of the pan and set them aside. By adding soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, honey and lime juice to the pan I create a nice pan sauce, simmering until reduced. Then I add a bit of shredded ginger toward the end, as well and reducing the mixture until it’s nice and syrupy.
Once seasoned and done, I put the mushrooms back in the pan to coat them with the reduction. If you sprinkle them with some Daikon sprouts, it will make the dish colorful, and also these vibrant sprouts will bring a nice crunch and spice element to this simple side dish.