Spring is in full swing and shopping for produce has become fun again. The aisles of my local grocer are lined with brightly colored fruits and vegetables and every trip holds the promise of finding something completely new and unexplored.
But it isnt always the new things that excite and inspire me. The other day, I found some gorgeous shiitake mushrooms with caps so thick that for a brief moment I thought I might be looking at baby portabellas. Were it not for the arresting aroma coming from the display, I may have moved on, but the savory scent of the mushrooms hooked me by the nose and drew me towards them.
Back at home, I thought about chopping them up and throwing them in a stir-fry, but to desecrate these majestic brown caps seemed downright wasteful, and so I decided to use them whole. After much deliberation, I decided to stuff them with a Chinese-style pork filling similar to what I put into my baozi. Its an incredibly flavorful filling made with pork, scallions and ginger, making it a good pairing for the pungent mushrooms
These stuffed shiitakes make for a great appetizer individually, but theyre also substantial enough to make for a filling meal with a bowl of rice.
Stuffed Shiitake Mushrooms
- 6 large shiitake mushrooms
- 4 ounces ground pork
- 2 scallions, white parts and green parts minced separately
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon sake
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- white pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- vegetable oil for frying
- 1/4 cup water
- Remove the stems from the shiitakes. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the caps from the center towards the edges. Trim the stems of any dirt, and then mince the stems.
- Add the minced shiitake stems, pork, white part of scallions, ginger, sesame oil, oyster sauce, sake, sugar, salt and white pepper to a bowl. Put on some gloves and knead well.
- Divide the meat mixture into six balls, and then stuff each ball into a shiitake cap. Lightly dust the shiitake and meat filling with the cornstarch.
- Heat a frying pan with a lid over medium-high heat and add about two teaspoons of vegetable oil. Fry the meat side of the stuffed mushrooms until browned, then flip and fry the mushroom side for about the same amount of time. With the lid in one hand and the water in the other, carefully add the water and quickly cover with the lid.
- Steam until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 5 minutes). Remove the lid and let the remaining liquid thicken into a sauce, tossing to coat each stuffed mushroom. Plate the mushrooms and garnish with the minced scallion greens.
Yield: six stuffed mushrooms
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marcs been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.