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Matsutake Mushroom Season

Paul H | Oct 2, 200506:05 PM

Here in San Francisco, we have a great mushroom store, Far West Fungi, in the Ferry Building amonst all of the other boutique food purveyors. Yesterday, I noticed white truffles for $214/oz. which -- can you guess ? -- I passed on. However, three weeks ago, I noticed they had matsutakes. That first week they were $36/lb., the next $24/lb., and yesterday they were $32/lb. Of course, I didn't buy any when they were a "bargain" but I did succumb to temptation on Saturday.

They are obviously wild, as they need serious cleaning to get the dirt and sand off of them. They have a woody, earthy aroma and a very firm texture, almost crunchy. They hold up really well to cooking, retaining the texture through anything I've tried so far.

I ended up using them in a Japanese dish: matsutake dobin mushi, which is a clear broth soup full of interesting things. Mine included matsutakes, shrimp, gingko nuts, sake, shoyu, Japanese parsley, lime zest, and yuzu juice. Even though the shopping was an adventure-and-a-half, the result was excellent, and I'll be trying it again. I drank some Emilio Lustau Fino Sherry with the soup and it was a great pairing. I have a theory that there isn't a food that doesn't pair well with some style of sherry. Experiments so far prove me right.

I'm still experimenting, but I don't think these would be good sauteed with a steak.

By the way, for anyone in San Francisco, there are PILES of packaged matsutakes in the Nijiya Market in Japatown for $29.99 per pound. I suspect they will be available for a few more weeks.

Link: http://www.sweetandsourspectator.org

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