Mushrom Hunting

Something about the universe this year has set off a local mushroom extravaganza. Apparently it's been at least 20 years since anyone's seen such as good mushroom season, and little roadside stalls selling wild mushrooms have sprung up all over the place. There's a shop at the end of our street that I thought had been abandoned, but for the past few weeks the doors have been open and they've been selling what everyone else is. The market is experiencing a total glut of course, and mushrooms such as the sought-after Matsutake are now selling for around 10 000 yen per kilo, instead of 3 - 10 times that amount which I've been told is the usual going price. The variation depends on who's doing the telling. Or the selling?

You can always tell when there's a glut of something, because suddenly we start getting things for free! Last year was terrible year for mushrooms, and I think we hardly ate one mushroom meal in the whole season. This year we have done extremely well though, and I've had to madly hunt around for good mushroom recipes. The simple things seem to work best though, just stir-frying wild shiitake with butter is ridiculously good, and the only thing you need to put in a good Japanese-style mushroom soup is salt, and a tiny bit of soy sauce, just for the colour. And some tofu if you've got it.

Our neighbour, as well as being a famous craftsman and famous loach-catcher is also a self-reported famous mushroom hunter. He's been going out pretty much everyday, and brings back at least 10kg at a time. Which is a lot of mushrooms! He sells as lot of it, and dries or salts the rest. On the weekend, he invited Y. to go with him into the forest hunting for mushrooms and Y., once again, proved no match for our 79 year old neighbour and came back half-dead! But with lots of mushrooms, such as...

Maitake, which have a pretty strong flavour, so apparently you shouldn't cook them with meat. These can get really big, and our famous neighbour once found one weighing 30kg!! He has the photos to prove it. We sent this little one off as a present to Y.'s parents. And...

Kuritake, which are for eating straight away, and can be cooked with anything you like.

You have to boil them before washing them, or otherwise they break up too much. Then you can cook with them. I made a pork-y Chinese-style something or other, very good! And...

Akanbo, which are very tasty, so we were advised to salt them and eat them in the winter time when we need cheering up with something yummy. These too need to be boiled before they're washed so they don't break. Then all you have to do is bury them in salt, and it's all done!

I still can't get over how many different types of edible mushrooms there are out there! This is but a tiny selection. Some of the ones our neighbour was bringing back were typical mushroom shape like this last two here, but they weighed up to and above one kilo each! I've never seen anything like it. They're called Shishitake and are also quite sought-after so he was extremely pleased with himself!


  1. yum, i love maitake, especially in nabe!

  2. Yes! It was good in sukuyaki too, even though we were told not to cook it with meat!