Saturday, June 20, 2009

Shitake Toast, another hyper-local recipe

This year's Maker Faire here in California, which in the past has been mostly electronics, woodworking and other metal-head nerd stuff, featured a "homegrown village" with several vendors displaying composting techniques, jam making, wild-food foraging, and even stone-tool making!

One of the more popular booths was a stand from "Far West Fungi", the folks that sell mushrooms at the Ferry Building and local farmer's markets. Here at the Maker Faire they were peddling what looked from afar like big sawdust blocks wrapped in Plastic but that turned out to be home mushroom kits! We bought a Shitake kit, a brick of oak sawdust and rice bran molded together and treated with Shitake mushroom spores. We lugged it home, and set it up in a cool spot in the garage that gets a little bit of light. Mushrooms, as you might imagine, are very fussy. After poking a few holes in the top of the bag, we eagerly awaited a bloom of mushrooms.

And suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, there were mushrooms an inch or two wide sprouting all over the block! We got about two-and-a-half pounds, which would usually sell at $7.50 per pound. That means that the kit, which made me hem and haw at $19, has paid for itself on the first bloom. The instructions say we can expect 3-6 blooms, and I can't wait for the next one. Here's what we did with them:

Recipe: Hyper-Local Shitakes on Toast

What's Guerrilla: Our mushrooms came from the garage.
What's Gourmet: Fresh Shitakes have lots of flavor and a surprisingly delicate texture.

A pound or more of shitake mushrooms, as fresh as possible.
One clove of garlic, chopped and several sprigs of thyme.
A teaspoon of mustard and a teaspoon of Worchester sauce.
Some finely-chopped parsley.
Rounds of bread, toasted.
A small saute pan.

Method: 1) Remove the mushroom caps from the stems. Slice the caps into half-inch chunks and slice the stems as thinly as possible.
2) Get olive oil smoking in a pan, then toss the mushrooms in saute vigorously for a few minutes, until the mushrooms start to wilt.
3) Toss in the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant.
4) Add the worchester sauce and mustard, and stir to combine.
5) Put the mushrooms on the toast, sprinkle with parsley, enjoy!