Simmered Mushrooms and Kelp

Shiitaké Kombu

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Serves

    4–6

Appears in

An American Taste of Japan

An American Taste of Japan

By Elizabeth Andoh

Published 1985

  • About

Here’s a tasty way of using kelp left over from stock making. There’s a hint of aniselike flavor to the dark, lustrous sea vegetable and the dried mushrooms add a lusty earthiness to the dish. Garnished with roasted sesame seeds, a small mound of these slivered vegetables makes a tasty and nutritious accompaniment to plain steamed rice.

Ingredients

  • about 100 square inches kombu (kelp), left over from making dashi (basic sea stock)
  • 1½-2 cups cold water
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 6-8 small dried shiitaké (dark Oriental mushrooms), about ½ ounce in all
  • ⅔-¾ cup liquid from soaking mushrooms
  • 1½–2 tablespoons saké (Japanese rice wine)
  • tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (syrupy rice wine)
  • 1 teaspoon white sesame seeds

Method

Cut the kelp into strips about 2 inches long and inch wide. Fill a small saucepan with cups of cold water and 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar, and bring to a boil. Add the strips of kelp, adjust the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook for 7–8 minutes. Remove a piece of the kelp and pinch it. If it gives easily, drain the kelp immediately. If it still feels resistant, add ½ cup more cold water and continue to simmer for 3–4 minutes after it returns to a boil. Drain the kelp and rinse under fresh cold water. Drain again and pat dry with paper towels.

Soak the dried mushrooms for at least 20 minutes in warm water to cover. Save this soaking liquid. Remove the stems and save them for enriching stock, if you wish, or discard. Rinse the caps under cold water, being careful to remove any gritty material that might be clinging to the undersides. Slice the caps into -inch-thick slices and place these again in the original soaking liquid. Let the slices sit for at least 5 minutes. Squeeze the mushrooms, straining and reserving the liquid.

In a small saucepan, combine cup of the strained mushroom liquid with the rice wine, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and add the strips of kelp and softened mushroom. Cook for 5 minutes, add the sugar, cook for another 5 minutes, then add the soy sauce, and cook for 7–8 minutes. Throughout the cooking, stir occasionally. If the vegetables look in danger of scorching, add a few more drops of mushroom liquid or water. Finally, add the syrupy rice wine and, shaking the pan, cook for 1½–2 minutes. The liquid will be very bubbly and the vegetables will be well glazed. Let the vegetables cool to room temperature in the pot.

In a small, dry skillet, roast the sesame seeds over medium-high heat for 30–40 seconds until they begin to color slightly or a few pop. Shake the pan to keep the seeds in motion. Toss half of the seeds into the mushroom and kelp mixture, reserving the remaining seeds for a last-minute garnish.