Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lemon soy butter mushrooms (like I ate in the Japanese mountains) and I didn't know that Kiwis buy so many mushrooms

The other week I received (together with the other NZ Guild of Food Writers' members) a bag containing potatoes, mushrooms and tomatoes. Lovely! Vegetarians like to receive vegetables! So here is a something I made with the mushrooms :-). But before I share the recipe I would like to share some info that I found very interesting. This is an extract from the letter of the PR company that sent the vegetables, talking about the popularity of potatoes, tomatoes and mushrooms in New Zealand.

"This dynamic trio are New Zealander’s most popular and most loved vegetables* according to the Household Economic Survey 2010.

Collectively, tomatoes, potatoes and mushrooms account for almost 50% of all vegetable sales in New Zealand. Their celebrity status is attributed to their unique flavour and versatility. Available all year round and are packed with nutrients and powerful health-giving properties that research links to reduced risk of disease.

The top-seller is tomatoes, with potatoes a close second – though the two constantly jostle for first position, with mushrooms sitting a little further back in third position."

Wow,  almost 50% of all vegetable sales in New Zealand!

Now, I can understand potatoes, due to the Anglo/Scottish/Irish heritage of most Pakeha (white New Zealanders, I never understood if I classify as one...). I am not surprised by the tomato's figures either, after so many years in NZ I am still bewildered when I see Kiwi shoppers in the supermarket filling bags of tomatoes in the middle of winter (and some even comment that they are expensive!). Is it possible that Kiwis still perceive tomatoes as an 'exotic', but available all year round staple food just like bananas (which are another big seller, btw) and not as a seasonal product? Well, even the PR material says that they are available all year round... 

But mushrooms... that was a big surprise for me! I didn't know that Kiwis like mushrooms so much! Having grown up on foraged wild mushrooms (as a substantial part of my early diet), I rarely buy the cultivated ones, and if I do I try to mix them with some dried porcini or dried Shitake to add flavour. Of course garlic, parsley and other ingredients also helps, or a bit of soy sauce, lemon and butter like in this recipe! How do you cook your mushrooms, and if you are a Kiwi, do you really buy them so often?

Lemon Soy Butter mushrooms, Japanese Mountain Style

Now, I say "Japanese Mountain" because once I went for a hike in the mountains in Japan and stopped in a lovely wooden tavern for food. The mushrooms were fresh Shitake, so the taste was different, but I liked how they were cooked so much that I do it often with portobello mushrooms (or portabello??? The producer's website uses both spellings, maybe they are two types but I cannot tell the diffence), to give them more taste.

1 x 250 g pack breakfast portabello mushrooms
1 tbsp rice bran oil
2 tbsp Japanese Soy Sauce (not Chinese, only use the Japanese one)
Juice of half a lemon
Lemon slices to decorate
20 g butter, cubed

Clean the mushrooms removing the outer skin as much as possible, and brushing them with a paper towel. Heat a skillet or a frying pan with 1 tbsp of rice bran oil and then add the mushrooms, cap facing down, stalks up. Make sure that you move the mushrooms around with a spatula so that they don't stick to the bottom of the pan, and that they brown lightly on the top of their caps before adding the soy sauce and lemon juice. Keep stirring and when all the liquid has been absorbed turn over, cover and simmer on low for about 10-15 minutes. You may need to add a little water (cultivated mushrooms tend to be much dried that foraged mushrooms) from time to time, and stir often to make sure that they are not sticking to the pan. Serve piping hot with a more lemon slices on the side and topped with the cubed butter (which will melt and taste delicious with soy sauce and lemon; did you know that?). 
Vegans can substitute butter for vegetable margarine.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©


  1. I funghi!!!! Buonissimi, complimenti per la foto

  2. Ma dai che bello ricevere in regalo della verdura da provare e cucinare!!! Io aodro i funghi!!! Baci

  3. Molto bella questa ricettina di funghi! Da provare senz'altro l'accoppiata salsa di soia/burro!
    È proprio bello ricevere questo genere di doni da provare!
    Ciao , Franci

  4. As the Household Economic Survey is expenditure based, the position of mushrooms is related to their expense, rather than the quantity consumed. But I do love them and my favourite method of cooking them on their own is the sauté method I learned from Marcella Hazan's "Essentials" - no doubt the method you think is normal... When I find some field mushrooms when I'm out walking, that's the way I do them. (My favourite for the butter/soy combo? hands down, grilled omochi! The year I first encountered that I put on so much weight!!! ohps)

    These last couple weeks I have been thinking 'can I get some tomato plants in' ...... then we had that very cold snap last week and I came to my senses. .... thank goodness for tinned tomatoes.

  5. Oh I love grilled omochi Robyn, probably one of the things I missed more from Japan, here it is not easy to find them but now that you reminded me of them I feel like some!!

    Field mushrooms have more flavour, that's for sure :-)

    1. Forgot... just put my tomato seeds in pots... inside!

  6. Just checked the Household Economic Survey, but I didn't really understand it, only managed to download a list of goods...

  7. me la segno per i prossimi funghi autunnali che comprerò

  8. Troppo carina questa idea! Bravissima!

  9. non ho capito molto,ma i funghi sono stupendi....baci
    ps. ho messo adesso un pane, nel blog del pane, l'altro ancora non funziona,cambio piattaforma..baci

  10. I am a big fan of mushrooms, they are such hearty veg and I often make a Stroganoff with them and no meat

  11. Stroganoff without meat and just mushrooms sounds good to me :-)

  12. Shiitakes are my favourite mushrooms-actually most of the "exotic" mushrooms are excellent but shiitakes have such a uniquely strong flavour that I think I'd love to try this recipe with them :)

  13. We eat heaps of mushrooms and this sounds a great twist on our usual mushroom fare. Great nod to our recent trip to Japan as well.

  14. Giusto ieri sera ho mangiato i porcini fritti...questa tua idea è proprio carina :D
    un bacione!!!!!


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