Shiitake and Boletus
Mushrooms and Dried Tomatoes
50 g (1/4 cup) dried boletus (porcini) mushrooms
50 g (1/4 cup) sun-dried tomatoes
200 mL (slightly more than 3/4 cup) white wine
8 fresh basil leaves
1 small onion, minced
45 mL (3 Tbsp.) extra-virgin olive oil
5 mL (1 tsp.) freshly grated ginger
100 g (1/2 cup) fresh white button
100 g (1/2 cup) second variety of minced
fresh mushrooms (such as portabellos)
2 green onions, minced
Mushrooms are a versatile, flavourful 60 mL (1/4 cup) 35% cream
Salt to taste
and easy-to-prepare complement to any meal Tabasco sauce to taste
1. Soak both types of dried mushrooms
By Anne Desjardins together for at least 30 minutes in 300 mL
(11/4 cups) of very hot water. Mince and soak
Rare, mysterious, flavour- poses. The mycelium, consist- sun-dried tomatoes for at least 30 minutes in
ful and even magic, ing of white filaments spread- 100 mL (about 1/2 cup) of hot water. Conserve
mushrooms have been ing under the surface of the liquid drained from the mushrooms and the
consumed by humans humus, bark or rotten wood, is tomatoes (400 mL or 12/3 cups) and add to the
for thousands of years. They fas- the hidden but essential part. white wine; mixture should total 600 mL
cinate and scare us at the same Without falling into scientific (21/2 cups) liquid. Rinse the barley and drain.
time. Here in North America, jargon, I’d just like to note that 2. Mince the rehydrated dried mushrooms
and 4 basil leaves, setting aside 4 nice-looking
the first Europeans did not even most of the time mushrooms leaves for decoration.
include mushrooms in their list live in symbiosis with a species 3. Fry the minced onion in a little olive oil with
of edible foods. Prejudice and of tree or an ecosystem such as half the ginger until transparent, then add the
lack of familiarity were surely a pine forest or a maple grove. rinsed barley, minced rehydrated mushrooms,
the reasons. The ratio of humidity to heat is and half the minced rehydrated tomatoes; cook
Mushroom gathering goes back to the what determines growth; the impact of all for 1 minute. Add the 600 mL of liquid and
early days of mankind. Drawings of mush- these factors makes mushroom growing very cook over medium heat for approximately 20
rooms have been found in pharaohs’ tombs. complex. minutes. Set aside.
The Chinese grew shiitakes on oak stumps From time immemorial, people have 4. When you’re almost ready to serve, brown
prior to 1,000 B.C. According to descriptions tried to improve their understanding of mush- the minced fresh mushrooms, minced green
of their banquets, ancient Greeks and Romans room growing because some varieties are so onions and minced basil in a little olive oil. Set were crazy about mushrooms. History also delicious and in such demand that they fetch aside. Brown the cooked barley in olive oil over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the rest of the
reveals famous poisonings, which has surely an extremely high price on the market. dried tomatoes, the fresh mushroom mixture
fed our distrust. Truffles, for example, have earned the nick- and cream. Add salt and Tabasco to taste, scoop
More than 300,000 different species of name “black diamonds” and can sell for more onto a warmed platter and decorate with fresh
mushrooms have been categorized on the than $2,000 a kilo on the Canadian market. basil leaves. Makes 4 servings.
planet, in a variety of shapes, sizes, flavours Rare but also highly appreciated and pricey
and toxicity. Of these, only 30 or so species are are morels and boletus (porcini in Italian).
edible, easily identifiable and gastronomically Some varieties of mushroom can be dried
worthwhile. to prolong their shelf life. Drying mushrooms
The Western world did not succeed in cul- is an ancient technique based on a simple idea:
tivating mushrooms until Napoleon I; the first Large numbers of mushrooms are quickly
successes were with white button mushrooms, cleaned, placed on screens and exposed to dry
today’s most popular cultivated variety. air for complete dehydration. They can be
Button mushrooms are delicious and com- conserved for long periods and regain most of
monly available in farmers’ markets and their flavour when rehydrated. With their
supermarkets. characteristically strong flavours, shiitakes,
and they perform masterfully in this issue’s
recipe. I find fresh as well as dried mushrooms indispensable for giving depth to a
recipe. They are wonderful for heightening
flavours, and I use them to round out a recipe
or to add body to the flavour of a sauce.
Here is a recipe that will enable you to
appreciate both dried and fresh mushrooms.
Enjoy your meal! C
Even today mushroom cultivation is not boletus and morels are prime candidates for
easy: These are complex organisms. The this type of preservation. Anne Desjardins is the award-winning chef and
part we eat and call a mushroom is the fruit I love mushrooms and use a great variety, owner of L’Eau à la Bouche, a hotel-restaurant
that produces spores for reproductive pur- both wild and cultivated, in my restaurant, located in Sainte-Adèle, Québec.
2 The Costco Connection • OCTOBER 2005 ARTICLE FEEDBACK FROM THE CANADIAN EDITION ARCHIVE