I made a Japanese feast for Sunday’s dinner. Miriam had requested that it be a vegetable forward and a low sugar meal. Japanese dishes seem to have a lot of added sugar, but I could work with that.
A few weeks ago, I found a book Izakaya: Japanese Bar food with a recipe for Japanese bar style shiitaki mushrooms. The true trick to the recipe is how long you marinate the mushrooms before grilling them. In the three hour marinating time, the mushrooms become completely saturated with whatever sauce you are using.
Note: When I have made these mushrooms in the past the only complaint I have received is that I did not make enough of them. This time I used the whole package. Five mushrooms each was barely considered enough.
I have experimented with other fusion flavors, but for this meal I wanted to go back to the ingredients of Japan. A sauce that I have not experimented with is ponzu—which is a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, and (usually) yuzu juice added.
Karl’s Grilled Ponzu Shiitaki Mushrooms
6 oz. shiitaki mushrooms
½ cup ponzu
½ Tbs. dark sesame oil
1 tsp. cornstarch mixed with 1 tbs. water
green onion, green parts only
Note: Start marinating your mushrooms at least three hours before grilling, overnight is better.
1. Stem the mushrooms.
Tip: The stems are inedible, but you could still use them in flavor a good dashi stock.
Note: In past recipes I would cut the mushrooms in half, so that it would seem that the diners were getting more pieces. Since I am making the whole package this time, I dispensed with cutting them.
2. Put the ponzu and oil into a seal-able quart plastic bag.
Note: In past recipes I included both extra sugar and salt. For Miriam ‘s sake I am accepting only the sugar of the mirin in the ponzu and the soy sauce is really salty enough all by itself.
3. Put the mushrooms in the bag.
4. Press most of the air out of the bag and seal it.
Note: Do not crush the mushrooms.
5. Shake the bag to distribute the sauce over the shiitaki.
6. Place the bag in the refrigerator and let it marinate for at least three hours.
Tip: Flip the bag several times to redistribute the sauce.
7. Place 3-4 mushrooms on each skewer.
Note: Soak the skewers in water for half an hour before starting.
8. Put the remaining marinade in a small pan and heat it over a medium heat.
9. Add enough cornstarch to thicken the sauce.
10. Grill the shiitaki directly over the heat, until they are starting to brown around the edges, 4-5 minutes per side.
11. Just before the mushrooms are done, brush both sides with the sauce.
12. Remove the mushrooms from the skewers and toss with the green onions.
13. Transfer to a shallow bowl and serve warm.