Enokitake mushrooms… long, thin, white and used in various Japanese, Chinese and Korean cuisine — but mostly in soup. You can purchase them fresh (like these that I got at Russo’s for $1.49) or canned; clearly fresh is desirable.
Sometimes called “Golden Needle Mushrooms”, “Winter Mushrooms”, “Velvet Foot” or “Velvet Stem”, Enokitake — or just Enoki— are cultivated on the stumps of Chinese Hackberry, Mulberry or Persimmon trees, but they also grow wild in parts of the world.
The color and form of the mushroom are a direct result of how they are cultivated. They are deprived of sunlight (or any light for that matter ) by being grown with a dark jar over them. The mushrooms grow very long to reach for the light and are devoid of pigment from the lack of light as well.
Wild Enoki look very different… with a black stem and a broad brown cap, which can reach 3 inches in diameter… so it will be very clear if you are buying wild or cultivated mushrooms just by their appearance alone. I couldn’t resist picking up these inexpensive morsels up and wasn’t sure what to do with them. Since it was suggested that they are often used in soup, I figured that was my best bet.
So I tore open a package of (pre-cooked) Udon noodles, heated them in some ginger soy broth I had on hand, added water and the Udon seasoning packet… and:
The result was a savory soup, chock full of toothsome noodles and earthy, delicate enoki. It was just as good as any Udon I have ordered in the past. I will definitely be making this combination again.
Love mushrooms and like to garden? Well I have good news for you! You can actually buy an Enoki Growing Kit from Amazon.com. I’ve always wanted to try growing mushrooms and I think my dad actually bought a Shitake log once. Maybe this summer or fall… or whenever the appropriate season is.