Tag Archives: rice

Matsutake feast

This is seriously one of the most divine meals I’ve ever made. It was SO GOOD. I decided to go for a Japanese themed feast to feature my gorgeous matsutake that I found in Oregon. I made matsutake infused rice, black pepper tofu (admittedly more Chinese than Japanese), and cucumber with smashed ginger salad served with sake and finished off with green tea mochi ice cream. OMG It was good. You are going to enjoy this post I am sure of it!


First I started off with these gorgeous giant Matsutakes that I foraged in Oregon on the coast, and miraculously they were completely clean and no bugs!


How pretty are these mushrooms?!




I am not super familiar with cooking Matsutakes so this time I turned to a pro for some advice and re-produced the recipe from expert forager Hank’s honest food blog and made delicious matsutake infused rice. The recipe was super simple, just chop up the matsutake and mix it with 2 tbsp sake, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp mirin, 1 tsp salt, and 2 cups short grain rice and put it in your rice cooker. We decided to make this recipe vegetarian so instead of adding dashi (which you should use if you want to go super authentic) we used vegetable broth and added it to the rice and mushrooms in the rice cooker until everything was covered. Then we turned on the rice cooker. Super simple! While the rice was cooking, we focused on making the tofu and cucumber ginger salad.


Matsutakes can taste a bit like foot (full disclosure) if not fully properly cooked, so we took some matsutakes off the top of the rice dish that were  not fully cooked and fried them in vegetable oil to make sure they were nice and browned. We added the fried mushrooms back on top of the rice and added chopped chives to the top for a pop of color and flavor. OMG doesn’t it look so yummy??

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While the rice dish was cooking, I got started on the cucumber dish. It was a recipe from my number one fave Yotam Ottolenghi in his all vegetarian cook book Plenty. Mix together the dressing of 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar, 2 tsp white sugar, 2 tbsp sunflower oil, and 2 tsp sunflower oil. Pour that over a sliced red onion and let it marinate for a while. In the meanwhile, smash together some ginger with 1 tsp coarse salt.


I do not have a mortar and pestle so this was a bit tricky for me. I did the best I could with the back of a wooden spoon and my bowl. Mix together the “smashed” ginger and salt with the onion and dressing. Then slice up the cumber and add it to the mix.



Let the cucumbers and onions marinate in the dressing while you cook the other dish. At the end garnish with cilantro and toasted sesame seeds. This dish was super refreshing and ended up being the perfect complement to the rice and spicy tofu dishes.


Wild mushroom pizza with my first Matsutake!

The other weekend I went hiking in Marin County. It’s been pretty dry the last couple weeks, so I was expecting a beautiful hike and lots of waterfalls but I did not have my hopes up for good mushrooms. Much to my joyful surprise, I found tons of mushroom diversity on the hike and I even found the prized Matsutake for the first time. Matsutake is very popular in Japanese cuisine, and apparently the Japanese Matsutake can fetch as much as $100 per mushroom. The American version typically sells for significantly less at $20-35/lb, but still, it’s a pricey mushroom. So when Patrick looked down and saw a big whitish mushroom sticking out from under the huckleberry bushes and asked me what it was, I was super excited when the revelation of what exactly I was holding onto dawned on me.


My first ever Matsutake!

Matsutake goes by multiple scientific names but going into the vagaries of scientific naming conventions is beyond the scope of this blog. Suffice it to say that it is a white mushroom that tends to stain brown on the stem, has a very thick white ring around the stem called an annulus, and has a very distinctive smell. David Arora describes the “unique spicy odor” as a “provocative compromise between ‘red hots’ and dirty socks” in Mushrooms Demystified. My friend Melina says it smells like “jock strap and cinnamon red hots.” I personally have always thought of it as smelling like an old gym, so the thought of eating it never particularly appealed to me. However, given that so many people love it so much and are willing to pay $$, I was very intrigued to try it when I finally found one of my own.

The American Matsutake: Tricholoma magnivelare

The American Matsutake (Tricholoma magnivelare)

Since it is a very special mushroom with a distinctive smell and flavor, you can’t just sauté it in butter or olive oil and add it to anything like you can with a chanterelle or porcini. I found some great tips and recipes on “Cooking the Magnificent Matsutake” from the forager and blogger extraordinaire Hank Shaw. However, the recipe that I ultimately decided to go with came from my friend and fellow mycology PhD student Roo, who suggested that I make a Matsutake pizza. There were definitely times when the mushroom was in the sauté pan with the garlic, and I smelled garlic with an undertone of funk; I was a bit scared of what I was getting myself into. I must say though, Roo was quite right about his recipe. The Matsutake pizza was delicious!

Pizza dough rising

Pizza dough rising

The recipe is quite simple. Start with a homemade dough and sprinkle with olive oil. Then, add the sautéed mushrooms with a bit of onion and garlic, and a sprinkle of good quality mozzarella. Bake in the oven at highest heat for 5-10 minutes, then top with good parmesan after it is cooked.

Max happily rolling out the pizza dough

Max, a fellow mycology PhD student, happily rolling out the pizza dough

I’ve never made pizza before, so I found this simple pizza dough recipe online, and enlisted help from my friends. Since I was a bit afraid that I would not enjoy the Matsutake and its particular ‘funk’, we also made a classic margherita and a vegetarian pizza.



The first step of course was to clean off the dirt from the Matsutakes, then to cut them up and sauté them.

Matsutakes cleaned up

Matsutakes cleaned up

Mushrooms cleaned and sliced in the sauté pan:

Matsutakes cleaned and sliced in the pan

Matsutakes cleaned and sliced in the pan

I let the Matsutakes sit in the sauté pan for a long time. We rolled out the dough and made the first two pizzas while they cooked. Eventually, I added several cloves of garlic to add some flavor.


Matsutakes sautéd in olive oil with a bit of garlic – they are starting to get brown and beautiful!

Once the mushrooms were browned, Max rolled out the dough onto a baking sheet. Unfortunately, I do not have a pizza stone, so a baking sheet had to do. Be careful to sprinkle flower to the pan before adding the dough.

Max rolling out the pizza dough onto the baking pan

Max rolling out the pizza dough onto the baking pan

Next, we sprinkled with olive oil and added the sautéd Matsutakes with some onions and garlic:


Starting to look pretty good, right?

After that, we added some mozzarella balls to the pizza:


Home made pizza dough, sprinkled with olive oil, sautéd Matsutakes, onions, garlic, and mozzarella

We baked it in my oven at 500 degrees F for approximately 7 minutes.



Here are my friends patiently sitting at the table with the cooked Margherita and vegetarian pizza, looking stoked to sample the pizza buffet:

Simone and Max looking super excited to try the pizza!

Simone and Max looking super excited to try the pizza!

Margherita pizza

Margherita pizza

And the pièce de résistance, the Matsutake pizza!

Final product: home made Matsutake pizza with mozzarella and parmesan reggiano sprinkled on top

Final product: home made Matsutake pizza with mozzarella and Parmesan Reggiano sprinkled on top

Thanks friends for helping me bake and eat all of this delicious pizza!

Simone, Max, and Patrick, being good sports while I take pictures of everything before they can eat it

Simone, Max, and Patrick, being good sports while I take pictures of everything before they can eat it

Here is a plate loaded up with salad and all 3 pizzas:

Plate loaded down with salad and all 3 pizzas

Plate loaded down with salad and all 3 pizzas

Despite my trepidation at the funky smell, the Matsutake pizza was my favorite in the end. The funky flavor comes through more strongly when the mushroom is not thoroughly cooked, but the well-cooked sautéed mushrooms permeate a delicious flavor without being too funky. Perhaps one day, I will get to the point where I am all about that funk and want to use the Matsutake mushrooms raw. For now, though, cooking them in a pizza was the perfect entryway to this mushroom. Thanks, Roo!