KPMS Mushroom of the Month for February 2008
This month is a departure from bioregional and edible mushrooms into world flavors & a more Eastern view of food as medicine.
||Shiitake, Chinese Black Mushroom
||Field identification is not necessary, since Shiitake is native to eastern Asia. However, it is widely cultivated and may eventually naturalize.
||Choice, and medicinal!
||Lentinus edodes has been used for both food and medicine for over 2000 years in China. The holistic approach in Asian medicine seeks to minimize the erosion of our health by enriching it and improving our capacity to balance and renew our resources. This day-to-day protection of our health is generally both different from and complementary to Western crisis management. Modern studies have shown that shiitake mushrooms are beneficial for preventing high blood pressure and heart disease by reducing both Total & LDL cholesterol levels, building resistance to viruses including the common cold, and a potent extract boosts the immune system to fight diseases such as cancer, Hepatitis B, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Lyme disease.
||Lentinus edodes is easily available both fresh and dried in most markets. The fresh mushrooms are fairly easy to cultivate on hardwood logs or sawdust and are sometimes available pre-inoculated at farmers markets with growing instructions. The dried Chinese black mushrooms can be expensive in small amounts, but larger & less expensive bags are available in a wide array of quality from Oriental markets. Chinese dried black mushrooms are a bit richer & stronger flavored than Japanese dried Shiitake; and both are stronger than fresh shiitake. Shiitake should not be eaten raw.
Recipe: Braised Chicken Wings with Black Mushrooms
This recipe is similar in concept to the "healing" properties of chicken soup, with the added benefit of black mushrooms to "turn on" cells in the immune system.
15 chicken wings, tips removed
15 medium dried Chinese black mushrooms
1 lb. (net) canned spring bamboo shoots (short & pale)
3 scallions, chopped
1 "thumb" ginger, peeled & julienne
6T. soy sauce
4.5 C. water
3 T. wine (sake, sherry, dry white wine)
1 T. sugar
1 t. cornstarch paste
A few cilantro leaves
Soak mushrooms in 1.5 C. warm water 30+ minutes until thoroughly soft, drain, trim stems off, cut caps in half. Marinate chicken wings in soy sauce 15 min., drain & dry, reserve soy sauce. Either deep fry the chicken wings or lightly coat with oil and bake at 425 F. until golden brown. Cut bamboo shoots into 2” x 1/2” spears. Heat 3 T. oil in wok. Stir fry scallions & ginger 30 sec. Add soy sauce, remaining water, wine, sugar and bring to simmer. Add chicken wings, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots. Partially cover and simmer ~ 20 min. or until water is reduced to 1 C. Add cornstarch paste and stir until thickened. Plate chicken wings down the center of a serving platter with the mushrooms on one side, bamboo shoots on the other, and the sauce over the top. Garnish with cilantro leaves.