I think of mushrooms as a must-cook food. Sliced raw on salads they taste marginal, at best. And I have a slight paranoia about the ill effects of eating some of the more unusual varieties raw. Morels, for instance, must be cooked (and cooked thoroughly) to avoid “gastrointestinal distress.” Yikes. Shiitakes eaten raw can cause, in about 1 in 50 people, an itchy rash on the face and neck (more on this in a minute).
But let’s assume we’re not dealing with morels today (we’re not) and that you’re one of the 49. Or that you’re preparing plain old button mushrooms. Try a marinade. Marinating exploits the sponginess of raw mushrooms, a possibility I hadn’t considered before Chie told me about today’s recipe while we were on a walk in the sun the other day.
Speaking of which, this week we had a winter tease if I’ve ever seen one. I broke out my sunglasses and Chie and I peeled off our jackets as we were circling the lake. The spring-like weather nudged me to get outside with my camera, too. Before I get back to the issue at hand, here are a few images from a practice session with my new lens. These were taken in our front yard, where the plants seem convinced that it’s both winter and spring.
And there’s something else before we move on. I turned 40 this week. It’s strange to witness the softening of my features in the mirror, to discover which edges age is choosing to blur. But mostly I’m okay with the change, even looking forward to a decade my older friends tell me they recall with fondness. I foresee a time of taking better care of myself, risk-taking, acceptance and a richer understanding of people.
But enough about me. On to the cooking! Before we move to the recipe, I’ll note that sources I read recommend shiitakes be cooked in order to avoid the possibility of the rash I mentioned a moment ago. If you’re leery, sauté the mushrooms prior to marinating. That said, I went ahead and marinated them raw. As Chie promised when we talked about it on our sunny walk, they soak up the flavors of the tamari, vinegar and ginger and combine with the blanched kale for a warm salad that is itself somehow a perfect combination of winter and spring.
Warm Kale Salad with Marinated Shiitakes
Eating shiitake mushrooms raw is something I started to do recently
after I met the man who owns Alpine Mushroom Company and
grows these healing fungi, Terry Bunce.
This salad was inspired by Joseph at Wobbly Cart Farming Collective.
He reminded me of blanching greens to make a simple, delicious, almost creamy dish.
½ lb shiitake mushrooms
1 bunch kale
¼ c extra virgin olive oil
3 T tamari
2 -4 T apple cider vinegar
1 – 3 T ginger, peeled and grated
1 T raw honey
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Add a small handful of salt.
Meanwhile, whisk together the olive oil, tamari, vinegar, ginger and honey.
Wash, stem and chop the kale. Drop into the boiling salted water and blanch
for a minute or so, just to wilt the greens. Drain well.
Toss with the marinated mushrooms. Adjust for seasonings, serve warm and enjoy.