Ginseng Eryngi Mushroom (Insam Saesongyee)

What’s the scoop??? Ginseng Eryngi Mushrooms??? I really don’t believe it until I looked again at the pack in my hand! I grabbed this pack from the supermarket shelve without noticing any difference between this Eryngii Mushrooms or Pleurotus Eryngii I used to buy (I did a scoop about it before) until I reached home. They (whoever they were…) must be joking – Ginseng Mushroom??? How they managed to fortify the mushrooms with Ginseng? Grow the mushrooms on ginseng root mulch (the end of the roots were considered the cheapest $ ) or spray ginseng extract onto the mushrooms? I sure would love to see how they did it 😐

After digging online for more information… This Ginseng Eryngii is call Insam Saesongyee (Ginseng (Saponin) Content 2.46 mg/g) and the producer also produced Ginseng Enoki or Insam Pengyee (Ginseng (Saponin) Content 2.16 mg/g)! It’s the new ingredient in culinary world and be prepared to indulge in recipes cooked to enhance the taste of these Ginseng Mushrooms… The Taste? There’s this after-taste sweetness, slight crunchy than the ‘original’ P.Eryngii.  There’s no strong Ginseng smell at all… 😦 If you have eaten Ginseng before, you will have that idea.
Ginseng Eryngi Mushroom (Insam Saesongyee)

Ginseng Eryngi Mushroom (Insam Saesongyee)

What’s next? Dang Shen Mushroom? Dang Wei Mushroom? 🙂

Simple Fresh Mushroom Soup

I’d been busy these few days, arranging some trips with my family for this June. Due to this, I’d been neglecting a bit my fridge… I discovered yesterday that I still have some mushrooms tucked nicely in brown bags! I had to think of solution not to waste this precious fungi collection. Further discovery, I still have 1 small carton of crème fraîche and packet of parsley unopened. It was raining really heavily since early morning and temperature dropped to 24ºC which is cosy for a tropical climate ( yeah, I’m back in my hometown for awhile… 😛 ) I love to watch rain pours at the sea from my balcony and the only thing I could think of in such weather is ‘soup’…. mushroom soup it shall be! Is a simple soup (not as elaborate as restaurants) and for me it’s a hearty meal with fresh bread plus hot coffee in the morning… errrr… in this case I think I should said ‘brunch’ 😀 
I like making soup in large quantity so that I can freeze them for other days. If my elderly neighbour’s around I pack the soup in several servings for her so she could have it whenever she wants. She lost one of her legs to diabetes last year and have difficulties to go to market without someone chauffeured her… 😦 When my family have the time, we will take her out for dinner or lunch and to the fresh market. She’s a very good cook and I learnt quite a lot from her as well
Simple Fresh Mushroom Soup
(serves 2-4 portions)
A Selection of Mushrooms of your choice:
Cut off the hard portion of mushrooms and wipe off any grits on them. Slice mushrooms to small pieces. This is what leftovers I had but you can use any amount you fancy…
100 g Grey Oyster (Abalone) Mushrooms
50   g Bunapi Shimeiji Mushrooms
60   g Shiitake Mushrooms
100 g Enoki Mushrooms
1 large Red Onion – finely chopped
2 Tbl Italian Flat Parsley – finely chopped  for garnish
300 ml Chicken stock or more
Some Fresh Thyme-remove leaves from the stalk as required
1 Bay Leaf
Salt & Black Pepper to taste
Some Flour – for thickening the soup
Some Butter – In this recipe I used 30 g of butter
Crème Fraîche
Tools: A handheld blander
1. Combine 200 ml of chicken stock with 1 Tbl of flour until well mix. You can add more flour if you like thicker soup. Set aside. You will use the rest of the chicken stock according to the thickness you preferred later on.
2. Sauté onion in butter in a pot (or saucepan) until clear and slightly browned. Add thyme, bay leaf and sliced fresh mushroom mix. Covered & Simmered for 10 – 15 minutes or until mushrooms slightly wilted. Remove the bay leaf. Reserve 1-2 cups of the cooked mushrooms.
3. Stir the stock and flour mixture. Pour into pot, stirring until it thickened. Using a handheld blender (or any blender you own) – blend to the consistency you like. I like mine smoother in this recipe.
4. Stir in the fresh cream to your taste. Add in the extra stock until it reached your required thickness & creaminess. Simmer for 1 minute.Do not boil.
5. Dish into serving bowls and add some of the reserved cooked mushroom. Sprinkle some chopped parsley and a dash of fresh cream (if you like… :-D).
Note: If you don’t like that creamy (or weight conscious), you can use fresh/low-fat milk instead of fresh cream but adjust the stock you add in as well.
You can add in about some dry white wine or dry sherry and croutons to give that extra ooomph! 

Shiitake No Nimono (Shiitake Simmered in Soya Sauce)

Ok… I know I’m a bit mushroom crazy this week but I can’t help to share those lovely fungi with foodie friends! When you got the chance to buy them at half-price and with extra added to the box, the temptation’s to great to be missed… 😀

One of my favourite mushrooms is definitely Shiitake, either fresh or dried. It’s a must-have ingredients in Asian cooking mainly in Chinese and Japanese kitchens. You can cook them just like fresh ones and still maintained its shapes. Another good reason to have dried Shiitake at hand is to make stock with the liquid after soaking the dried mushrooms. I like to add some of it and the strained liquid as well in mushroom soup – just a bit will do to give that pungent mushroomy flavour.
A interesting remark from my Japanese friend is that they preferred dried shiitake better than fresh ones. In Japan it’s very expensive compared to fresh Shiitake. Dried Shiitake has more concentrated and superior flavour. I totally agreed with them!
Have a try on dehydrated mushrooms snacks that comes in plain or with wasabi added. It’s sooooo yummy!
Shiitake No Nimono
Shiitake No Nimono
6-8 Large Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
375 ml Dashi II or Konbu Dashi II (recipes below)
2 Tbl Mirin
2 Tbl Sake
2 Tbl Japanese Soya Sauce
1 Tbl Dark Brown Sugar
1. Soak shiitake mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain well. Discard the stems.
2. Combine the dashi, mirin, sake, soya sauce and sugar in a small pan over high heat. Stir the mixture until sugar has dissolved. Bring to boil.
3. Add the shiitake. Bring it to boil again and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour or until the liquid almost evaporated.
4. Serve warm or at room temperature as side dish, part of multicourse, snack or over rice. You can use it in cawan mushi or with noodles – slice thinly or quartered.
Serves 4-6 portions.
Making of Dashi Stocks:

For Dashi II

10 cm (4 in) square of konbu
20 g (1 cup) katsuoboshi (bonito flakes)
1. Wipe konbu with a damp cloth but don’t rub off the white powdery substance that will become obvious as it dries. Cut the konbu into strips.
2. Place konbu & 1.5 L (6 cups) cold water into a saucepan and slowly bring it to boil. Quickly add 60 ml (1/4 cup) cold water to stop the boiling process. Add the bonito flakes. Allow it to boil again and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Allow the bonito flakes to sink to the bottom of pan. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve. This stock is ready for stews and thick soups. 
Makes 1 L (about 4 cups)
For Konbu Dashi

15 cm (6 in) square piece of konbu
1. For Konbu Dashi I, cut konbu into strips and place them in a saucepan with 1.5 L cold water. Bring to boil, then remove the konbu.
2. For Konbu Dashi II, leave the konbu in the pan, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes longer.
Makes about 1.5 L (5 cups)


Mushrooming Ideas…

Lately, there’s been surplus of mushrooms at low prices at the local supermarkets (I know, I know, I should get them from fresh market … rolling eyes …) for less than 1 € /pkt of 160 g – 250 g of several choices! I was grinning away like Cheshire Cat at the vegetable section instead of fish corner… 😀 I love mushrooms… they have not much flavours but it’s easy to add them into your favourite cuisine either raw or cooked. Definitely, one of those versatile and healthy food available today. 

Since I’m now back home in Southeast Asia, my daily meals are those hard to find Asian ingredients in Europe that are costly as well as not fresh in the Asian supermarkets. You’re lucky if you can get a pack of 250 g Beansprouts that’s juicy and not mushy on the shelve. Sometimes, the staff don’t even bother to remove the watery and brownish packages off the rack. Once, I had to wait 2 weeks for a bunch of Screwpine Leaves/Pandan Leaves (Pandanus)from Paris! What did I got after much anticipated waits? 2 large bunch of of Pandan Leaves and the lost of my enthusiasm to cook Black Glutinous Rice! Added to the mood, the Pandan leaves has no fragrance at all… sigh… Anyway, that’s for another blog 😀
Now, back to the shrooms… 
Here’s the Brown enoki and Bunapi Shimeiji from Korea (seems that Koreans are very enterprising producing quality mushrooms.) 
Brown Enoki Mushrooms
Brown Enoki Mushrooms is a.k.a. Golden Enoki Mushrooms with chewy texture and richer Enokiness taste compared to the common White Enoki Mushrooms. I like Tempura Enoki when you ordered Tempura meal in Japanese Restaurants. Small bunch Enoki is fanned out – like a fan and deep fried in tempura batter.
Bunapi Shimeiji
Bunapi Shimeiji a.k.a White Beech Mushrooms or as Hon Shimeiji mushrooms-the name typically refers to the Buna Shimeiji or Bunapi Shimeiji strain. The Hon Shimeiji mushrooms can be sautéed using high temperature or slow roasted on low temperature with a small amount of butter or cooking oil. I did Kinoko Batayaki – sautéed mushrooms in butter & sake few days ago… it’s simply delicious and it’s not mushy at all.
It’s easy to do Kinoko Batayaki… 
1. Get ready some Hon Shimeiji Mushrooms sake, butter & a frying pan.
2. Heat a frying fan in medium heat. When butter melts, add in the mushrooms. You can add more butter if you like. More butter used the richer the aroma (I thought it’s better to eat more butter than margarine lately…)*
3. Add few dashes of sake.
4. Slowly cooked it until softened or to your liking.
5. Serve as side dish or top it on your rice with omelette.
* I didn’t add any salt because the butter I used is Salted Butter.
Itadikimasu!!! Enjoy!!!