Sake Gumi


Dried mushrooms are fashionable. They are packed with umami, and don't contain any artificial crap. By drying them, mushrooms are concentrated with nutrients and all the good stuff. Mark Bittman wrote about the greatness of dried mushrooms. Pre-packed dried shiitake are found easily at Asian grocery stores, but majority of them are made in China. After seeing all the crazy pollution there, it's sort of disgusting to think these are sun dried in China, under such heavy smog (this probably isn't true since majority of companies use drying machines, rather than sun for this process).

I was shopping in Chinatown one day and came across these huge packages of shiitake, for $3.99 a pound. If you buy shiitake at any market, it's usually $11.99 a pound, so this was a huge bargain, and I bought three giant packs, for a total of 4.5 pounds.



What you need are mushrooms and sun. How simple is that?

I first placed them in these blue drying mesh, but it's still too cold for any bugs so I simply placed the shiitake on table.



Day #2: This was after drying for two days.


They are definitely shrinking, but still soft to the touch.

Close-up of mushrooms.


They are dry outside, but still moist inside.

It was rainy for two days, so I simply placed the mushrooms near the window during this time. If it had been sunny everyday or if it were a bit warmer, it may have dried quicker.

Day #5, the final product:



Dried shiitake mushrooms, made in New York City, no preservatives added!





This is so easy. If you have access to a large amount of mushrooms for cheap, this is something you may want to try. I will definitely use for chikuzen-ni (similar to the nimono Yoko made a few months ago) and make sweet/soy shiitake, to be used in futomaki.
Column: MOTOism
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8 comments

  • why dirty? Do you know how popular local honey is, and how it’s effective for allergy season, because bees carry local pollens? By consuming local “dirt” through honey, humans benefit from it. There are whole artisanal culture here, where people plant vegetables on rooftops in NYC apartment buildings. It’s extra expensive because they are “local”, not “dirty”.

    Moto on

  • ちょっと汚いでしょ。。。

    Anders on

  • I really don’t think it’s a big deal, nor dirty, to keep mushrooms out in the yard to dry in the sun. People in Japan leave anything from persimmons to seaweed to fish to dry so they can preserve it. DIY dried mushrooms in NYC is a fun and simple idea, and seems totally harmless.

    However, I will say that I never buy mushrooms from China. I always check where it’s from, even in Chinatown. It’s a personal issue. I also don’t buy shoes made in China. Again, a personal quirk (which doesn’t make any sense since I don’t care if my TV was made in China- I blame it on Hideko).

    Kayoko on

  • I’m just surprised.

    You’re incorrect about the honey though. Bees extract the fumes and smog from the pollen before making it into honey, which is why it’s entirely fine to digest it even from roadside flowers. The honey is clean – even from “local dirt”. So I don’t know where that allergy thing comes from. Probably an urban myth.

    I know about these things first hand because I work for a beekeeper here in Denmark who has bee hives in the city.

    But leaving out food among toxic air is another thing, I would assume. The mushrooms are not passed through a bee’s organs before being consumed by humans.

    But then again, maybe the rooftops are so high the smog don’t get up there? (although it does in China as far as I can see on my friend’s photos who’s just been to Shanghai). 40 story highrises have thick clouds of yellow smoke hanging around them… I hope it’s different in NYC…

    Anders on

  • Where did you buy the “blue drying mesh”?
    I live in a fairly clean air location so would really like to try this.

    Herb on

  • Yoko: You know me too well.

    Moto: She’s kinda right. You’re everyone’s culinary priestess aka MOTOMartha, and you know more about food than I ever hope to. So preach that shit, gurlfrend!

    Anders on

  • Anders just wanted to use his fave word “kittanai”!

    Yoko on

  • Herb, if you are living in a clean air location, I wouldn’t worry about blue mesh. That was to avoid bugs. You can buy them at any DIY store in Japan, and there are similar (a lot larger) ones available at garden type stores, but they are huge (I have one, but never use it)

    Moto on

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