Friday, December 17, 2010

What the heck do I do with....Mushrooms???

Mushrooms are an under appreciated entity.....they are not a plant, but rather a fungus; they form spores and don't create chlorophyll. In reality, they are nutritional powerhouses. Mushrooms are packed with selenium; selenium has been known to help lower the risk of prostate cancer. Mushrooms are also packed with B vitamins, potassium, are low in calories and high in fiber.
So, what do you do with mushrooms?
Well, they can be eaten in the raw state on salads, but that's pretty boring. They can be sauteed with garlic and thyme and made into a hearty topping for crusty bread. They can be sauteed with garlic and onion and then stewed with tomatoes to make a hearty sauce. They can be used to make an earthy, meaty broth as I did.

I used both fresh and dehydrated mushrooms to make a full bodied, heady broth that I then used to make an Asian inspired mushroom soup. I used dried shiitake mushrooms which I found in an Asian market not far from where I live.
The dried mushrooms give the broth a richness that fresh mushrooms just can't. This is due to the fact that the flavor gets so concentrated when they dry out and all the flavor comes out into the broth as it cooks. I also had a few dried oyster mushrooms kicking around, so I added those as well. Check out these shiitakes:
Other ingredients for the mushroom broth included leeks, onion, carrot, thyme and white button mushrooms. Did you know that the white button mushroom has been found to have the highest antioxidant levels, up to 5x more than other mushrooms??
To make the broth, add all of the ingredients with some water into a pot and bring to the boil; reduce and let simmer for 45-60 minutes.
When the broth is done, you'll have a beautiful brown broth with a delicious, earthy flavor. You can use it in soups, stews, to cook grains even to make risotto...
After my broth was done, I then used it to make a mushroom soup; it was Asian inspired with Nama Shoyu, a fermented soy sauce, which is lower in sodium than it's counterpart, tamari. I also added in some garlic and chile pepper...I would have used ginger and cilantro to finish it off, but I was out...none the less, it was delicious..
I used a variety of fresh, wild mushrooms: chantarelles, yellow foots, oysters, shiitakes and creminis along with carrot, celery, garlic, serrano chile, spinach and kale.
I sauteed the aromatics in coconut oil until tender.
I added in the broth and brought it up to the boil, then let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
I then added the mushrooms, Nama Shoyu and greens, brought it up to the boil, and let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
At this time, a handful of chopped cilantro would be nice, a squeeze of lime juice or even a splash of sesame oil would also work. I enjoyed the flavor of the mushroom broth too much and wanted to keep sesame out of it this time :) It was delicious, perfect for the cooler weather, real meaty and hearty tasting, without making you feel like you've eaten something not good for you.
So don't be afraid to try out some mushrooms the next time you go to the market :)
Enjoy, Sharon

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