Shiitake Mushroom Consommé
- 8 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms
- 10 dried shiitake mushrooms
- ½ oz. dried kombu, rinsed well
- 1 c. small diced onion
- 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 3 qt. of water
- 2 T. butter (for vegan preparation, eliminate butter and use more olive oil)
- 4 T. (6 T. for vegan preparation) olive oil
- ¼ c. of thinly sliced shallots
- ¼ c. finely diced carrots
- 1 T. minced ginger
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- Salt to taste
- 2 T. chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 T. thinly sliced green onions
Snip off the stems of the fresh shiitake mushrooms; slice mushroom caps and set them aside. In a stockpot, combine the stems, dried shiitake mushrooms, kombu, onions, smashed garlic cloves, and water; simmer for about an hour. Line a strainer with a coffee filter; pour liquid through pressing on the solids. Set the liquid aside.
In a sauce pot over medium heat, melt butter (if using); add 2 T. (for vegan preparation, use 4 T.) of oil. Lightly sauté sliced mushrooms, shallots, and carrots for 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for another minute.
Deglaze pot with reserved mushroom liquid. Keep consommé warm until ready to serve. Add salt to taste. Add cilantro. Ladle into bowls and top each with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of green onions.
Learn More About Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake (she-TAH-kay) mushrooms are the world’s most flavorful cultivated (not wild) mushroom. Their intensity—estimated at 10 times that of white button mushrooms—is the very definition of umami.
Umami is often referred to as the fifth taste—the first four being sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. Japanese for “delicious taste,” umami is the savory taste sensation you long for and may seek without even thinking about it.
For centuries, Asian cuisine has valued shiitakes for their umami. With the exception of dried shiitakes, labeled as Japanese or Chinese dried mushrooms, shiitakes are relative newcomers to the US market.
Dried shiitake mushrooms can be stored indefinitely in your pantry. To reconstitute, place the amount you need in a small bowl and cover with water; microwave on high for 30 seconds, and let steep for 5 minutes. Use both the reconstituted mushrooms and the soaking water, but strain the water through a paper towel first. While the texture of reconstituted dried shiitakes is not the same as fresh, their flavor contribution is greater.
Fresh shiitake mushrooms have umbrella-shaped caps that are dappled in brown tones with creamy-white undersides and a woodsy smell. The stem looks too small to support such a wide top, and it would be if not for its woody texture. A package of shiitakes will have a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Avoid shiitakes that have bulbous stems, broken caps, yellow undersides, or ammonia-like odor. Keep up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. To prepare, wipe with a damp cloth, remove the stem, chop or slice the caps, and sauté. The stems are too woody to eat, but don’t throw them out! They add delicious flavor to stocks and sauces.
Chef’s combination of seaweed (kombu), shiitakes—both fresh and dried, and several key vegetables amp up the umami in this month’s delicious consommé. Prepare yourself for a flavor explosion!
Za’atar enhances Chef’s recipe 3 times: 1) toasted with the vegetables to bring out its deep notes 2) added as the herbal ingredient in the finishing vinaigrette 3) a light dusting right before serving to preserve its lighter, more delicate flavors.