Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Well, you don't have to attend fancy luncheons to incorporate ingredients from traditional Chinese medicine into your food. Underneath the kobe beef in the second course of that luncheon were a few slices of hericium erinaceus or monkey head mushrooms. Never heard of them you say? I hadn't either until I stumbled upon them at the grocery store. The monkey head mushrooms are on the far left of the picture below. You know me, for $1.69 a package, I was willing to experiment.
This is what they looked like dried.
And after soaking in water for about half an hour. Rather like sponges huh? Also explains why they're also called lion's mane mushrooms. The monkey head mushroom has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years and is reputed to have antioxidant effects, as well as regulate blood lipid levels, and reduce blood glucose levels. They had a pretty strong dried, earthy mushroom smell and taste. The texture seemed as spongy as its appearance.
I also bought a couple king oyster mushrooms just to add something else into the mix. Normally I would just saute these with beef. You can also see these mushrooms on the grill at Chung Kiwa Korean BBQ Restaurant in Koreatown.
I also used crimini mushrooms, the kind you'd find at the supermarket and shiitake mushrooms.
This recipe is very simple and comes together pretty quickly. And if you're feeling lazy, (or is it really industrious instead?), you can also add some more flour to thicken the soup into sauce, add pasta, and turn this into quattro porcini pasta, a fancy name for four mushroom pasta. :)
Now you don't have to use four kinds of mushrooms, you can easily make this soup with just crimini mushrooms and it'll still be tasty. And it's not really a precise recipe because it is a soup after all.
Cream of Four Mushroom Soup
For about a 2-quart stock pot amount, but you'll be cooking in a 5-quart stock pot for ease and space, you'll need:
1 package crimini mushrooms (brown or white of your choice), washed and sliced
2 king oyster mushrooms, washed and sliced
6 or however many you want of shiitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced
3 or so of monkey head mushrooms, soaked and sliced. I found them pretty strong so don't use too much or they'll be overpowering.
1 medium onion, diced
salt, to taste
2 cups or so milk or cream, depending on your preference
1 to 2 tblsp corn starch to thicken the soup
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
soy sauce, to taste
First soak the dried shiitake and monkey head mushrooms in very hot water so they'll be rehydrated. This takes at least 15 minutes to half an hour. Get your tap water as hot as possible or use boiling water to speed up this process.
While they're soaking, wash and slice the crimini and oyster mushrooms. Then finely dice the onion.
Turn the heat to medium-high, add a few drizzles of olive oil into a large stock pot and saute the onions until they just begin to soften and turn translucent. Add the sliced crimini and king oyster mushrooms to the pot and saute. I usually add a few sprinkles of salt at this point so the mushrooms have time to absorb it.
The shiitake and monkey head mushrooms should be hydrated by this point. With your eye on the pot to make sure nothing burns, quickly slice the remaining mushrooms and add them to the pot as well.
While the mushrooms are cooking, dissolve 2 tblsp of cornstarch in 1 cup milk, or 1 tblsp if you're using cream. When all the mushrooms have softened, pour the milk into the pan along with 1 more cup of milk. Turn heat down to medium-low and let the soup simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes so that it can thicken. Taste and add salt or even a few dashes of soy sauce if you wish. If the soup still isn't as thick as you'd like, dissolve another spoonful of cornstarch but in a smaller amount of milk and add that into the pot.
Serve with freshly ground black pepper on top.
Who else made cream of mushroom soup?
Amy of Nook&Pantry made cream of mushroom soup with chanterelles.