It is Fresh Matsutake Season! This has not been the most abundant year for matsutake this year, it stayed warm much to long (not for us, just for the mushrooms) so we have been waiting for cooler weather and moisture to come to us. The wait is over. In the past few days we have had lows in the 30′s, rain and snow in the mountains. This is good and bad, good, because it is suppose to be warm- in the 60′s, so the snow that is now covering the mushrooms should melt off, creating the perfect environment for a good flush of matsutake, and that means better prices and a better quantity of matsutake mushrooms.
The Grades of Matsutake that we have are:
Grade 2,3 Mix Matsutake, which means some of the mushrooms have the veil intact at least half way, and others will have almost no veil. These are great for cooking with in non traditional Japanese dishes and soups. The flavor and aroma are not as strong as the #1 Matsutake or the small Matsutake.
Small Matsutake are great for any dishes that need the strong aroma and flavor of the #1 without the price. They are what we call “dinks” they may have a cap, but they are under 2.5 inches, and usually look like a stem, because the cap has not formed, therefore they will usually not have a veil.
The Matsutake Mushrooms is known as: Ponderosa Mushrooms, , Matsitaki, O-Matsu, Pine Mushrooms, 松茸 Tricholoma magnivelare or Matsi. This mushroom has a firm white flesh with a distinctive aroma of cinnamon and pine and a firm, spicy flavor and chewy texture. They are highly prized by the Japanese culture and are thought to bring fertility and by extension fortune and happiness. The matsutake is excellent in tempura, sukiyaki; also, matsutake rice and dobin mushi (steamed in a teapot), and soup are also delicious dishes. Broil, grill, steam or bake.