Many of Gourmet Mushrooms varieties are excellent in tempura, but perhaps the best is Maitake Frondosa. The Maitake’s beautiful, irregular shape helps the light tempura batter to cling, and the flavor is extraordinary.
Whether you use a prepared tempura batter mix, or make your own, remember these two key tips: use ice water for the batter and mix very minimally, a few lumps are ok. You don’t want to activate the gluten in the flour. The traditional method of stirring with chopsticks is therefore preferable to a whisk.
- 1 package Tempura mix, prepared according to directions OR 1 cup cake or AP flour
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch or rice flour
- 1 cold egg
- 1 cup ice water – chill water and ice cubes for ten minutes, then remove cubes and measure
Traditional dashi dipping sauce:
- 1 cup dashi soup stock
- 1/4 cup mirin (sweet rice wine especially for cooking)
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- Heat oil to 340 – 350 degrees. Pull Maitake Frondosa by hand into pieces about 1 inch by 2 inches. [CAUTION: Hot oil is dangerous. Make sure not to allow plain water to get into pan, which may spatter.]
- Use chops sticks to dip Maitake into batter, shake off excess, then carefully place in oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan. You don’t want the frying temperature to drop. Work in batches. As Maitake cooks, drain on paper towels.
- You can season the Maitake Tempura in many ways. The traditional Japanese dipping sauce consists of dashi (a stock made from dried kombu seaweed and dried bonito flakes), rice wine, soy sauce and grated ginger or daikon. Instant dashi can be found in many Asian markets and specialty stores. Or simply use a pinch of salt and pepper to season.
Makes about 30 canapés
- 4 oz. of MYCOPIA Maitake Frondosa
- ½ pound of Black Pig Meat Co. bacon
- 6 slices of rye bread
- olive oil
- Start by cooking off the bacon. Black Pig’s Duskie Estes recommends cooking it on a baking sheet lined with parchment at 350 degrees until nicely browned. Cutting it into squares while it’s still warm will hold down on the crumbling. (save the bacon drippings by pouring through a paper coffee filter.)
- Next prepare the bread base for the canapé. I used rye because I thought its hearty flavor would be a good complement to those of the bacon and Maitake Frondosa.
- After cutting rounds of bread, brush them with butter and cook in toaster oven until nicely browned.
- Prepare the Maitake Frondosa, by first tearing into little bunches, and trimming to reduce the stem.
- Cook the Maitake in a heavy bottom skillet over low heat. I used a little olive oil. You could use the bacon drippings. Turn once during cooking to brown on both sides.
- Finally, assemble little stacks. A bit of mayonnaise between each layer helps to keep them from toppling. The order is: mayonnaise, tomato, bacon, then Maitake.
Duskie Estes and John Stewart of Zazu Restaurant and Black Pig Meat Co. have been whetting our appetites with their perfect Black Pig bacon. It’s a fair trade, their piggies have been enjoying trim from our mushroom harvest rooms.
Of course, my mind turned to one of my favorites: the BLT sandwich. Thus was born the BMT – Bacon, Maitake, and Tomato. I couldn’t find a way to work in the lettuce, but I don’t think you’ll miss it.