Friday, May 23, 2008
Maitake Mushroom Casarecce with Parmesan & Black Pepper
I am currently reading a book called “Japanese Foods that Heal”. Kind of funny considering I just came back from China. If you are one of those people that are very conscience of what you put into your body, heard of the macrobiotic diet or are just interested in ‘food as medicine’ than you need to purchase this book. I have not been able to put it down since I’ve purchased it. If you or someone you know suffers from high cholesterol, check out the sections on Shitake, Maitake and Green Tea.
Mushrooms are one of the most miraculous foods Mother Nature has to offer. They have been revered for centuries as potent natural healers, a source of vitality (said to activate your ‘qi’ or life-force) and curing disease. We’ll start with the Shitake. Dried, this mushroom contains 25% Protein (All 8 amino acids are present). It is loaded with glutamic acid which is considered “brain food” due its “ability to stimulate neurotransmitter activity and its ability to transport potassium to the brain.” It also lowers cholesterol. “Studies with humans have shown that consuming only 3 ounces of shitake for one week can lower cholesterol by 12%.” It’s also a potent antibiotic. It kills the bad bacteria in your body, has the affect of reducing blood clots and separately, stimulates the immune system which means it makes your body produce more T-Cells. (1)
Maitake: The King of Mushrooms was considered so precious and rare in ancient Japan that it was literally worth its weight in silver. It contains up to 27% protein and like Shitake contains all the essential amino acids, is rich in vitamins and minerals (B-Vitamins, niacin, magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, selenium and zinc) and in Japanese medicine is used as a tonic to strengthen the body and improve overall health. It also stimulates the liver which detoxifies your entire body. It is also used for weight loss. “A Tokyo clinic tested the effects of Maitake on over thirty overweight patients. Without making other changes in their diet, Masamori Yokota, M.D. gave patients both dried and powdered Maitake daily for 2 months. Yokota reported that Maitake is more effective than any other regimen he has ever tested…all of his patients lost weight and got nearly halfway to their optimal weight. Weight loss ranged between 11 pounds and 26 pounds; the average person lost 11-13 pounds in 2 months.” (2)
That being said, there is butter and cheese in this recipe which could tip the balance of healing factors in these mushrooms. So, subtract the butter and use more olive oil. You can subtract the cheese, but you would be making a huge mistake. Meat, I might be able to do without, take cheese away from my diet and you’re stealing my soul.
4 Dried Shitake Mushrooms or 6 Fresh
200g Maitake Mushrooms or 2 big bunches
½ Lbs Pasta (Prefably fusilli, rotini, casarecce. Not spaghetti or Angel hair)
1 Tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tbls Butter
½ Onion diced fine
1 Cup Chx or Beef Stock/Broth*
4 Tbls Homemade Hazelnut Extract
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese
¼ Tspn Truffle Oil
1. Fill up the pot you’ll be cooking the pasta in with water. Add shitake’s and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Turn off the flame until you are ready to cook the pasta. Let the mushrooms soak.
2. Add the olive oil and butter into a skillet. Add the finely diced onions. Cover and cook on a low flame for 15 minutes. During this time wash and chop the maitake’s.
3. Once the onions have cooked, add the maitake’s. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add salt. Sauté for another 2 minutes or until all the juices have dried up. Add the hazelnut extract and flambé.
4. Remove the shitake’s from the water and slice thinly. Add these and the Chx/Beef stock to the mushroom/onion mixture. Reduce by half.
5. Bring Shitake water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until pasta is al dente. Times will vary depending on the pasta you make and how fresh it is.
6. Once the pasta is done scoop it out with a slotted spoon and add to the Mushroom/Broth mixture
7. Once all the pasta has been removed bring to a rapid boil and reduce for 5 minutes
8. While the pasta water is reducing coat the pasta and mushrooms together. Turn off the flame. Season with black pepper.
9. Add 4 Tbls of Shitake/pasta water. Heat up and toss in the parmesan and truffle oil. Coat evenly and serve.
10. All that pasta water is now a mushroom stock. Freeze it for a month or keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can use it to reinforce a sauce, for a vegetable or miso soup, etc.
*If using the ‘College Inn’ or ‘Swanson’ Brand adjust the amount of salt & parmesan you add because these are heavily salted.
(1)& (2): Belleme, John & Jan. Japanese Foods that Heal. Tuttle Publishing. 2007