Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Two Ways with Enoki Mushrooms...

I've always liked the cute look of enoki mushrooms- an army of thin white threads standing at attention together, small and large all bursting out with their heads resembling bobble-like caps. My kids were always curious when they saw me preparing them in the kitchen. Now when they catch their glimpse, they just say "oh I know that!"

In Japan, they are known as enokitake which means "under the snow". An ideal diet food, it contains no calories, is rich in fibre and has a surprisingly high vegetable protein of 5%. Because enoki mushrooms has very little flavour of its own but absorbs the flavours of other ingredients, it mixes well with almost anything. They don't hold up well to heat, but it doesn't mean you can't be innovative in working with its delicate nature such as pan-frying, grilling, steaming and adding in soups near to the end.

Here are two recipes I like to make for the family which you can serve as an appetizer or simple sides to accompany an Asian meal.

Shopping at Asian supermarkets, you may have encountered sweet ladies cooking up these simple but tasty omelets as a cooking demo and for sampling. It really is so easy to do at home.

Enokitake Mini Omelets
Makes about 15 minis

3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. cooking wine
1 package enoki mushrooms, roots chopped and discarded, and chopped into thirds
1 green onion, green parts only, thinly sliced
salt and ground white pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. oil

Whisk eggs and cooking wine in a bowl with a fork; add mushrooms and onions. Salt and pepper to taste and stir well.

Preheat a non-stick skillet on medium heat and drizzle a 1/2 Tbsp. oil. Spoon the mixture onto the skillet in several places- do not overcrowd. Once the omelet is golden brown on one side about one minute, flip it over and fry it on the other side, pressing down slightly with spatula. Working in two batches, it should yield about 15 mini omelets. 

Delicate tasting omelets with a slight springy mouthfeel of mushrooms.

The tangy savoury garlicky profile of this second enoki mushroom dish got me hooked when I first tried it at a Northern Chinese eatery. A simple but refreshingly good salad to try at home!

Enokitake Cucumber Salad
Makes 4 servings

2 packages enoki mushrooms, roots chopped and discarded
1 large cucumber, quartered, thinly sliced then cut into strips (set the cucumbers over a colander tossed with 1/2 tsp. of salt. Let water drain for five minutes. Squeeze out excess water)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. mirin or 1 tsp. cooking wine and 1/4 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. soy sauce
salt and ground black pepper to taste
sesame oil

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Pull apart the mushrooms to separate them at the base; blanch in water for one minute, give it a stir then drain in a colander. Fill a basin with cold water and add the drained mushrooms to remove some of their "slimy" texture. Strain in colander and squeeze well to remove excess water before placing in a bowl along with the prepared cucumbers.

Mix the vinegar, mirin, soy sauce, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss with salad. Then add the garlic and give it another toss before chilling in fridge for one hour upon serving. Drizzle with sesame oil.

Reminds me of a vegetarian version of jellyfish and cucumber salad! Yummy!

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