Enokitake(えのき茸)


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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

  • 1/2 block of firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 pkg of Enoki mushrooms (ends cut off)
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • fresh cilantro (chopped)

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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.

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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.

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