08 February 2011

The Wild Table

What happens when 1960's foraging guide, Stalking The Wild Asparagus hooks up with 1990's darling, The French Laundry? The most attractive love-child -- The Wild Table. Connie Green has been a long time forager who began offering her bounty to chefs in California. Needless to say, they were thrilled. The foraging grew into a flourishing business: Wine Forest, one of the first and largest wild foods companies in America.

Clearly, the more foraging, the more cooking. Connie Green joined forces with Sarah Scott who spent many years as a chef at the Robert Mondavi Winery. Together they have created a cookbook that combines the rustic simplicity of living off the land with the sophistication of fine dining. The mesh is mouth watering. While there is some leeway in substitution, one really should approach this book with the desire to cook the recipes with the actual ingredients. Sure, grilled mushrooms are grilled mushrooms, but an overly simplistic desire to substitute common ingredients for their foraged brethren seems defeatist to the very nature of this cookbook.

Instead, strap on your books and and head out into the woods. (If you are not used to the woods, one might benefit from signing up with a foraging guide to lead your enthusiastic venture. Frankly, you might be surprised just how many people out there participate in such foraging, even in such unlikely places as New York City. But don't expect to find ramps in Central Park. you will need to come to West Virginia for the best ramps.)

So here is a Matsutake mushroom recipe. Make it with Matsutake mushrooms! Seriously.

Foil-Wrapped Matsutake with White Soy and Ginger

3 tablespoons white soy sauce or 2 tablespoons soy sauce plus 1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons sake
3 tablespoons mirin
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 green onion, white and pale green parts only, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vegetable or peanut oil, plus more to brush packets
1 pound matsutake mushrooms, cleaned

Whisk together the white soy sauce, sake, mirin, ginger, green onion, lemon juice, and oil in a medium bowl.

Slice the mushrooms lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. Layout four to six 12-inch square pieces of aluminum foil on a flat surface. Brush the surface of the foil with oil. Divide the mushrooms among the foil squares, fanning the slices slightly in the center of each square. Brush the soy mixture over the mushrooms, enough to coat them generously. Fold in the sides of each packet, then fold the opposite sides together, rolling or tucking in the edges so that the mushrooms are snugly enclosed and the liquid won't leak onto the grill.

Prepare a grill to medium heat.

Place the aluminum foil packets over the heat, fold side up, and cook until they are fragrant and sizzling inside, about 8 minutes. Check inside a packet at this point to make sure the mushrooms are tender. Continue cooking for 1 to 2 more minutes, if needed.

Remove from the grill and let sit for 1 to 2 minutes before serving.

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