Bruce's Blog

a handful of dimes and a jukebox

Sometimes I like doing the Iron Chef thing:  taking an ingredient and seeing how many things I can do with it.  But it’s less fun that you’d think doing that with everyday things like carrots, for example.  I really like doing it when I come across a more unusual ingredient, especially something that I’ve never cooked with or sometimes even tasted.  The other week at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, the mushroom guy had some Italian black truffles.  They were absurdly expensive, but I bought half a truffle, which cost me $25.  However, a little goes a long way with truffles, and I was able to use it in three dishes, so it didn’t seem so ridiculous.  In the case of the truffle, I didn’t make the three truffle dishes at the same meal, I spread it across three nights.  The first night I did truffles with pasta, the second night truffle mashed potatoes and the third night a simple truffle omelette.   I think the omelette was my favorite, actually.  The truffle is as much a feeling that you get when you eat it as it is a taste.  Hard to describe.  But mighty fine stuff.

So yesterday I was at one of my favorite Japanese markets and I saw a package of matsutake mushrooms.  I’d been curious about matsutakes ever since I saw them as the ingredient on an Iron Chef.

These things are pretty expensive for a mushroom, but I like to think of these cooking adventures as educational expenses.

I decided to do three matsutake dishes for dinner tonight. I had some fish to cook, so I decided to do the fish in a miso sauce, a soup and a salad, each featuring matsutakes.

The salad was dead simple: mesclun lettuces, sliced red onion, purple cherokee heirloom tomatoes, and thinly sliced matsutakes

The soup was also quite simple. I started by sautéing some shallots. I get these amazing shallots from the farmer’s market and they are so great to use. The imbue so much to any dish. After letting the shallots getting nicely done, I added a couple of cups of homemade chicken stock and slices of the matsutakes and some spice and let it simmer. Done.

The fish dish was based on a recipe from a Japanese cookbook called Everyday Harumi. I made a sauce of sake, miso, sugar, mirin and soy sauce, then brought that to the boil, added thinly sliced ginger, the fish and the matsutakes, and let that simmer about 10 minutes.

That’s it.  I felt like a barely cooked.  And yet — everything came together wonderfully.   Matsutakes have a very mild but lovely “woodsy” taste.  Hard to describe.  But definitely woodsy.  Definitely glad to have tried them!

Categories: Cooking

One Response so far.

  1. The black truffle being in the Fungi family is also a great condiment to pasta. Black truffles are being farmed in Spain & other parts of the world.

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