Japanese Mushrooms Steeped in Dashi

Japanese Mushrooms Steeped in Dashi

Learn how to prepare a flavorful mushroom dish inspired by the traditional home cooking of Kyoto featured on the seasonal obanzai menu at En Japanese Brasserie. Infused with umami from kombu-katsuobushi dashi, this dish includes maitake, shiitake, and shimeji mushrooms, as well as sake, mirin, usukuchi soy sauce, Japanese sea salt, and aromatic Mitsuba. Follow the culinary tips of Chef Honma for a delightful Japanese cuisine experience.

Chef Honma of En Japanese Brasserie features this dish on his seasonal obanzai menu, which evokes the traditional home cooking of Kyoto (read more about obanzai here). This dish is simple to prepare but infuses a trio of cultivated mushrooms with complex flavor as well as a nice umami kick from the dashi. Here's what you need:

  • Maitake mushrooms, separated
  • Shitake mushrooms, stems cut off and thinly sliced
  • Shimeji mushrooms, separated
  • Kombu-Katsuobushi Dashi (read this post about preparing)
  • Usukuchi soy sauce
  • Sake
  • Mirin
  • Japanese sea salt
  • Mitsuba, chopped including stems (where the flavor lies)
  • Kiku (Chrysanthemum flower)

To prepare, first bring about 2 cups of dashi to boil in a saucepot. Add about a tablespoon each of sake and mirin, then add a pinch of salt and about two tablespoons of usukuchi soy sauce (a lighter-colored but saltier soy sauce than the koikuchi soy sauce, what would be considered typical Japanese soy sauce). Taste the liquid: Honma explained that want it to have a light soy sauce taste rounded by the sweetness of the mirin, but be mostly dashi flavor. (I hope that makes sense -- you just have to taste and find out what makes sense to you.) Turn off the heat and let the liquid cool to room temperature.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and quickly blanch the mushrooms for 30 seconds or so. Strain them and allow to cool. Next, blanch the mitsuba, an aromatic herb, very quickly -- it will turn bright green in seconds. Strain and cool.

Once the dashi cools, add the mushrooms, mitsuba and kiku petals, if you have it, and allow the ingredients to infuse for an hour in the refrigerator. (You may be able to find kiku in a Japanese food store, but I'm not certain -- the idea with the flower petals is to add alluring color to the dish, of course, but if you can't find, the dish will be fine without.)

To plate, pile mushrooms, mitsuba and kiku together in a small dish. Make a nice mound, not pushing down on the ingredients. Spoon a little of the dashi around, and serve.