March is Maitake Mushroom Madness Month
Maitake, Brown Beech, White Beech and King Trumpet are in the “Final Four” of Cultivated Wild Mushrooms
San Marcos, CA, March 20, 2009—As the first round of games in “The Dance” get underway across the country, and men’s college basketball begins its annual, inexorable ritual of selection, those famous five words ring out again in kitchens and in front of televisions across the nation: “Give me cultivated wild mushrooms!”
What? Maitake Mushroom Madness Month isn’t a Hallmark® holiday; it’s a Hokto Kinoko Company holiday. And while St. Joseph’s Day, National Doctor’s Day and April Fool’s Day all fall within the specified time frame, the Hokto Kinoko Company knows that with all the food choices consumers face at the beginning of the tournament, by April 4 in Detroit, it comes down to the Final Four: maitake (hen of the woods); King trumpet or king oyster (enrygii); white beech (bunapi) and brown beech (bunashimeji or hon-shimeji).
While delicious and nutritious even in the early days of the season, bracket elimination format college basketball perfectly complement the rich, complex flavors of cultivated wild mushrooms. And that umami—the savory, meaty flavor unique to mushrooms now recognized as the fifth taste sensation—helps make ordinary March Madness dishes extraordinary.
At the Palazzo Las Vegas, where, we’ve heard, betting on sports games takes place, why not try SUSHISAMBA’s Japanese Mushrooms toban-yaki, which feature maitake, king trumpet and brown beech mushrooms (www.sushisamba.com). In Chicago’s Drawing Room at Le Passage, where basketball is deeply ingrained into the local psyche, enjoy Nick LaCasse’s sautéed scallops with ramps, brown and white beech mushrooms and buerre rouge (www.lepassage.com). Eastern European specialty chef Barbara Rolek (who usually follows Chicago’s DePaul or Loyola in college hoops) says, “These meaty mushrooms performed exceptionally well in my recipes for Mushroom Strudel, Creamed Mushrooms, Mushroom “Palacsinta” (crepes), and Mushroom-Egg "Palacsinta. I substituted king trumpet, brown and white beech, and maitake for shiitake, cremini and morel, and the result was as good if not better. I highly recommend these mushrooms.”
The Hokto Kinoko Company, A subsidiary of Hokto Corporation, Japan’s largest specialty mushroom grower, has just completed a state of the art new growing facility outside of San Diego, California. They are now delivering certified organic, fresh, US-grown cultivated wild mushrooms throughout North America—under the Hokto Kinoko label, private labels and through national and local distributors—to grocers, specialty food stores and chains throughout the year.
Home cooks and professional chefs alike will also appreciate wild mushrooms’ nutritional value and health benefits. Like humans, mushrooms make their own Vitamin D, they are a great meat substitute and in Asia are considered cancer fighters. So…how to cook healthy March Madness dishes with cultivated wild mushrooms? Try professional home chef Pamela Croft’s Three Mushroom Caviar on Crispy Crostini. And enjoy the games!
Three Mushroom Caviar
4 ounce package White Beech mushrooms
4 ounce package Brown Beech mushrooms
4 ounce package Maitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon scallions diced finely
½ teaspoon thyme leaves
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoon Balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
1. Cut the bottom portion of the mushrooms off and discard.
2. Gently break the mushrooms into smaller pieces
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add all of the mushrooms and sauté until golden brown and slightly crispy.
4. Add the thyme.
5. Remove the pan from heat and set aside to cool
6. Once cool chop finely and add the remaining ingredients.
7. Refrigerate overnight.
Yields 8-10 appetizer portions. Recipe courtesy Pamela Croft, Dinner at Home Personal Chef Service 858-792-8866; www.dinnerathome-sd.com
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