Fall is the season of mushrooms. There are several varieties, such as Shiitake, Shimeji, Enokidake, Eringi, and Maitake, (see photo) to name a few. However, of all mushrooms, one reigns superior.
Matsutake is the KING of mushrooms. It is highly valued for its delightfully strong flavour and pleasantly chewy texture. It’s easy to identify, being similarly shaped to a man’s genitals. As it is impossible to grow artificially, Matsutake is quite expensive.
One domestically grown Matsutake costs about 2,000~4,000yen ($17-$35 US), depending on the perfection of the shape and size. As a result, it is an ingredient restricted to fine quality dining establishments.
In comparison, however, imported ones are priced more reasonably at about half the cost. Most imported Matsutake come from South Korea, North Korea, China, Morocco, and Canada. In the photo, Matsutake from Canada are shown with a price tag of 1,380yen ($11.90 US) for 100g.
A typical dish complimenting the true flavours of Matsutake is Dobinmushi. (see photo) A few Matsutake are cut into bite sized pieces and combined with other ingredients such as shrimp, white-fleshed fish, and ginko nuts. These are placed all in a small tea pot containing clear broth. The pot is then steamed.
When the ingredients are tender, the dish is ready The ingredients are picked out of the pot to enjoy, and the soup is poured into tiny cups. A splash of sudachi citrus juice is added to the soup to enhance the flavour.
In Kyoto, Dobinmushi is served with hamo conger (Muraensox cinereus or conger pike) and Matsutake. The result is an extravagant dish utilising the best ingredients of both summer and fall harmoniously in one pot.
by: Norie Mori