This is a hearty, filling dish with lots of flavour. The shiitake mushrooms can be cooked for a long time because it cooking times don’t affect the texture of this protein. The longer you leave the broth to absorb the flavour of these mushrooms and the other vegetables, the better. Remember to add soft, watery vegetables like spinach last, as they virtually disintegrate if you add them at the beginning. You can even add them to the bottom of the bowl, and pour the broth over just before serving.
Fresh and dried shiitake are used in many Asian dishes. I was first introduced to them during my time living in Japan years and years ago, but first really began eating them on a regular basis when I tried the wonderful whole foods health programme, Metabolic Balance. In this health programme, you receive a personalised meal plan, and both oyster and shiitake mushroom were present as a plant-based protein source on my plan. They are extremely satiating, can easily be found in the dried form in countries outside of Asia, and in Asia, you can take your pick. You even find the pickled version which are great in vegetarian rice balls, onigiri and sushi recipes. They have a strong meaty (and sort of umami) flavour, and for that reason, they are best suited to vegetable broths, stews and other slow-cooked dishes in my opinion.
The health benefits, although many have been reported, are currently unsupported by rigours scientific evidence. All Asian mushrooms do have medicinal properties, but in the format in which the average person would eat these foods, these ingredients’ properties are not best exploited. For me, the protein value of this rich and satiating food is more than enough for me to integrate it into my regular diet.
This recipe serves 2.
Shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced, 150g
Other mushrooms, like button or needle mushrooms, 50g
Mung bean sprouts, a few handfuls
Leek, finely chopped, ½
Carrot, finely cubed, 1
Fresh dill, finely chopped, a handful
Fresh, chives, finely chopped, a handful
Fresh garlic, minced, 3 cloves
Vegetable stock (I like Kallo best, or you could make your own), 750ml
Sea salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1. Pour the water and stock in a saucepan and bring to boil.
2. Add other seasonings of your choice, like cracked black pepper.
3. Add the garlic cloves, leeks and shiitake mushrooms.
4. Leave for 5-10 minutes and then add the other mushrooms and grated carrots.
5. You can leave this to cook on a low heat for as long as you prefer, or on a high heat for another 5-10 minutes. This dish actually cooks very quickly, but to enhance the flavour of the broth, you can leave it to cook on a low heat for a lot longer.
6. When it’s almost ready add the bean sprouts and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
7. Take off the heat and finally add the chives and dill and gently fold in before serving.
Add your favourite kind of noodles if you wish, I think black fern root noodles go well with shiitake mushrooms. Add some fresh leafy greens, like water spinach, at the very end if you wish.
You could increase the amount of grated carrots as they go very well with shiitake mushrooms. You could also add celery and more leeks at the beginning for added flavour in the stock.