Buy Matsutake

Matsutake mushrooms, the highly-prized autumnal delicacy revered by fine-diners in Japan, are the world’s most expensive mushrooms.Japanese mushroom their disappearing habitat in Japan means the price continues to climb Japanese mushrooms.

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Matsutake mushrooms

Matsutake mushrooms, the highly prized autumnal delicacy revered by gourmets in Japan, are the most expensive mushrooms in the world. Japanese mushroom their disappearing habitat in Japan means that the price continues to rise Japanese mushrooms.

Of the genus Tricholoma, with the name Armillaria ponderosa, they are not as expensive as, say, white truffles, but Japanese Matsutake mushrooms are the most expensive mushrooms in the world. They have a rich autumnal flavour, a meaty texture and sweet aroma that is sought after by master chefs for matsutake recipes in ryōtei restaurants.

The matsutake mushroom, closely related to Tricholoma magnivelare native to the Pacific Northwest, has a long and colourful history in Japan and South Korea. In a seventh-century Japanese poetry collection, Manyoshu, the delicious mushroom has been enjoyed by residents of the cities of Kyoto and Nara for over a thousand years. The matsutake mushroom was often presented as a gift by the aristocracy and even by members of the imperial family. Signalling the change of the season, the brown-scaled matsutake mushroom has, over centuries, become a potent symbol of Japanese culture.

The large fungi, once a common site in Japan’s autumn markets, and easily found on the forest floor, are no longer in such plentiful supply, however, and as they are virtually impossible to grow artificially, demand continues to rise.

What Price are Matsutake Mushrooms?

If you want to enjoy the unmistakeable, autumnal flavour of matsutake mushrooms, you will have to shell out. They may not be as expensive as some of the other high-end fungi like white truffles, but selling for about $1000 per pound (about €900 for 0.5 kg), they can be compared to some rare varieties of black truffle. A typical punnet of about eight mushrooms can cost as much as $500.

Why are Matsutake Mushrooms so Expensive?

As disposable income in Japan has increased in recent decades and mushrooms have become more valued in Japanese culture, the demand for matsutake mushrooms has continued to increase. The decline of the mushroom’s habitat – red pine forests, which are under attack from the pine woodworm, an invasive worm originally from North America – means that the supply of mushrooms is dwindling. The total annual harvest in Japan is now less than 1000 tonnes.

What are Matsutake Musrooms used for?

Matsutake mushrooms are often given as gifts, sometimes by companies to clients in season hampers. They are commonly used in sukiyaki, a nabemono-style one-pot dish combining dashi, sake, mirin, and sugar. They are also used in matsutake gohan, a steamed rice dish made with kombu dashi, soy sauce, sake, and mirin. Because of their unique flavour profile, the mushroom us usually not over-worked and instead they are enjoyed thinly sliced, in hot soups or with steamed rice.

How to Identify Matsutake Mushrooms?

The Japanese matsutake mushroom is of course a rare delicacy that can only be found in the red pine forests of the country. They are a pine mushroom which have a symbiotic relationship with the roots of certain pine and coniferous trees. The closely related matsutake mushroom of North America can be found in pine forests at altitude quite easily. The matsutake mushroom can be identified by its spicy, organic smell. They are white with brown stains that could look old or grubby. The gills are white, and as with all Tricholomas, the spore print is white.

Ingredients

INGREDIENT CHECKLIST

 

Directions

INSTRUCTIONS CHECKLIST
  • Gently clean the mushrooms with a mushroom brush or paper towel. Trim tough stem ends, and discard. Cut the mushrooms lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, keeping the cap and stem attached.

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, mirin, and ginger. Add the mushrooms, and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

  • Heat grill to medium-hot. Grill mushrooms in batches until they are golden and start to curl, 2 minutes per side.

  • In a small saucepan, bring soy mixture to a simmer over medium heat; cook until reduced and almost syrupy, 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and toss with grilled mushrooms. Transfer to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with scallions just before serving.

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