Mushroom Magic in the Kitchen




by Johnny Acton & Nick Sandler

Watercress and Shiitake Salad with Tofu

Serves 4

This is fresh, invigorating, and, according to Nick’s Chinese wife, good for longevity and good for the skin.  It is definitely good for the stomach.

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Two 4-ounce cakes of fresh tofu, cut into thick slices

Vegetable oil for shallow-frying, seasoned with 2 tablespoons sesame oil

9 ounces fresh Shiitake caps, thinly sliced (about 2.5-3 cups)

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon finely chopped red chile

1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

1 sprig of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon fish sauce

A bunch of watercress, washed and cut into manageable pieces

For the watercress dressing

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Juice of 1 lime

Splash a little soy sauce on the tofu and shallow-fry in the vegetable and sesame oils mixed together.  Cook until slightly golden on each side.

Stir-fry the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons sesame oil along with the chile, ginger, and garlic, the cilantro and the fish sauce, until the mushrooms have released their juices and these have reduced by half.

Mix together the ingredients for the dressing and toss with the watercress in a large bowl.

Place the mushrooms and the tofu on top of the watercress, either as individual portions or in a large bowl

Char-grilled Field Mushroom, Avocado, and Chicken Salad

Serves 4

If you purchase “Field Mushrooms” in the supermarket, they are likely to be specimens of Agaricus bisporus that have been allowed to mature to the point where their caps are fully opened.  This salad, which shows them off to excellent effect, is best served warm

4 large open-capped Field Mushrooms, seasoned with a little paprika, salt and pepper, and brushed with olive oil

2 chicken breasts, sliced thickly and seasoned with lemon juice, salt, black pepper, and l clove garlic, finely chopped.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup rich, home made chicken stock

1 large ripe avocado, peeled and pitted, sliced thinly and dribbled with lemon juice to keep it green

12 cherry tomatoes, sliced

A sprig of tarragon, finely chopped

Juice of half a lemon

Grill the mushrooms on both sides until nicely browned, and set aside. (The barbecue would work well; otherwise, use a griddle pan.)

Fry the chicken in the olive oil in a hot pan until it starts to color.  Add the onion and continue to fry for 5 minutes until it is soft.

Pour in the chicken stock and reduce by half.

Dump the contents of the pan into a large bowl and throw in the avocado, cherry tomatoes, tarragon, and lemon juice.

Place a mushroom cap on a warmed plate and arrange a portion of the salad mixture on top.  Serve immediately. [NICK & PIC TO CHECK]


From Mushroom. Copyright © 2001 by Johnny Action & Nick Sandler. Excerpted by arrangement with The Lyons Press, an imprint of The Globe-Pequot Press. $29.95. Available in local bookstores or call 800-962-0973 or click here.