Friday, August 12, 2011

Do You Know the Mushroom Man?

With the farmshare, we don't end up at the local farmer's markets that often. It's always an eye-opener as to how much more than staple veggies is available! When we went this week, among the treasures that followed us home were some pre-Prohibition style ginger ale from Green River Ambrosia, red currant-topped shaved ice (which didn't make it home, let's be honest), and some fresh shiitake mushrooms. These were particularly exciting. I play with dried shiitake all the time, but the fresh deal has a more interesting, subtle flavor and less toothy texture. We got there late enough in the day that it was the only variety the Mushroom Guy had for sale (it's his display above with lobster mushroom, coral mushroom, vampire squid edible bolete, etc.).

We decided we needed to really make the most of the pint of fresh shiitake, and it ended up becoming two very simple East Asian-style meals, leaving very little to get in the way of the fungus.

Day 1: Shiitake Rice Bowl

The other thing that's been a big influence on our cooking this week was the appearance in the mailbox of vol. 1 of Lucky Peach magazine, the inaugural issue of a gonzo gourmet magazine ring-led by Momofuku executor David Chang. The whole issue is nominally dedicated to ramen, and, to be sure, there's enough ramen-related content in there to fuel both a dissertation and a serious noodle-jones. It also takes time to wander off topic long enough to document a shared drunken rant on mediocrity between Chang, Anthony Bourdain and Wylie Dufresne, ruminate on the nature and relevance of authenticity in food, and dedicate the final quarter of the issue just to eggs.

The egg section not only describes several out-there egg recipes, but dedicates several pages just to examining about 12 different stages of boiled egg. This seemed to feed into our collective vision of a simple mushroom dish. Chang let slip that his preferred egg cooking time is 5 min. 10 sec., just enough to set the white and thicken the yolk slightly into a silky, unctuous texture. The dish was as simple as this: fresh shiitake sauteed with a little salt and a soft-boiled egg over rice, topped off with a lightly sweet shoyu broth and slivered scallion. That's all.

And really, that's all it needed.

    Shiitake Rice Bowl

    vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free
  • 1 c. fresh shiitake mushroom (or dried shiitake, soaked), sliced
  • 1-2 tsp. neutral oil
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 c. cooked rice
  • 1 scallion, sliced thin according to preference
  • 2 eggs, boiled for 5 min, 10 sec, peeled

  • The broth
  • 3/4 c warm water
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 1 Tblsp. sugar
Heat wok or other wide pan over high heat. Swirl with oil and add mushrooms. Sprinkle with salt and toss. Cook, stirring/tossing frequently until mushrooms are cooked soft, 3-5 min. Remove from heat.

Divide rice into two bowls and put half the mushrooms on top of each, along with one egg. Pour half the broth over each and top with a healthy pinch of scallion.

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