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OISHII / Mushroom medley creates pleasant harmony of textures

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Tsukudani-style mushroom pizza toast

The Yomiuri ShimbunMushrooms tsukudani-style

In this column, chefs and cooking experts share recipes that are easy to prepare at home

Mushrooms are a must-eat food for autumn.

Cooking expert Hatsue Shigenobu introduces a recipe for preparing mushrooms tsukudani style, by simmering mushrooms in soy sauce and other seasonings.

Tsukudani dishes can be stored in a refrigerator for a couple of days, and work well as toppings on rice or soba noodles, as well as with Western dishes. Shigenobu explains how to make pizza toast topped with tsukudani mushrooms.

Compared to typical tsukudani, Shigenobu’s recipe produces a dish that isn’t as salty, because a relatively small amount of soy sauce is added, and it is seasoned lightly, so it can be paired with various kinds of dishes.

She recommends using more than two types of mushroom to create different textures and combine subtly differing umami elements to enhance the dish’s overall flavor. Shigenobu used a medley of mushrooms — shiitake, enokidake, maitake and shimeji — for her pizza toast recipe, cutting them into bite-size pieces.

It is important to first steam the mushrooms with seasoning in a covered frying pan.

“This is for removing excess liquid from the mushrooms so that the seasonings blend well with the food,” Shigenobu said.

The mushrooms should be ready after being steamed for about 5 minutes. A rich aroma wafted from the pan when the lid was removed. The process noticeably reduced the mushrooms’ volume.

Shigenobu removed the lid of the pan and turned up the heat to quickly evaporate the remaining liquid in the pan. The tsukudani is ready when the liquid has almost completely disappeared. The dish’s concentrated umami complements the crunchy and soft textures from the different mushroom varieties used in the recipe. The dish can be kept in the refrigerator for five to six days.

Cheese, sliced onion and bell pepper can be topped with the tsukudani on sliced bread to make pizza toast. Thick sliced bread, such as the ones found in a standard four-slice pack at the supermarket, works best for this recipe. To reduce the saltiness, Shigenobu recommends not using too much cheese. The dish really is an “autumn pizza toast.”

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

Udon stir-fry

Tsukudani-style mushrooms are a great topping for stir-fried udon noodles.

To make enough for two people, dice 200 grams of Chinese cabbage into 2-centimeter squares and cut 30 grams of carrot into rectangles. Stir-fry with ½ tablespoon of oil for about 2 minutes until the vegetables become soft.

Add 150 grams of tsukudani-style mushrooms and boiled udon (2 servings) and continue stir-frying. Season with 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce. The Worcestershire sauce accentuates the dish’s flavor.

Recipe for mushroom-topped pizza toast

Ingredients (serves 2):

2 thick slices of bread

60 grams pizza cheese

One-eighth of an onion

1 bell pepper

Tsukudani-style mushrooms:

200 grams each maitake, enokidake and shimeji mushrooms

100 grams shiitake mushrooms

2 tbsp sake

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sugar

A pinch of salt

Directions:

1. Remove mushroom ends. Break maitake and shimeji into bite-size pieces and slice shiitake into pieces 2 to 3 millimeters thick. Tear shiitake stems into thin strips. Cut enokidake in half and then break into smaller pieces.

2. Put mushrooms into a frying pan and sprinkle seasonings — sake, soy sauce, sugar and salt — over the mushrooms before covering with a lid. Steam for 3 minutes over medium heat. Open lid and stir to let seasonings mix. Replace the lid and steam for another 2 minutes.

3. Open the lid and turn up heat a bit to remove excess liquid from the pan while stirring the food. Turn off the heat and chill for a while before putting the cooked mushrooms into a container for storage in a refrigerator.

4. To make pizza toast, sprinkle half the portion of cheese, sliced onion and sliced bell pepper as well as 50 grams of cooked mushrooms onto a slice of bread. Repeat this step with another slice of bread.

5. Toast for 4 to 5 minutes until browned.

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