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OUTPOST 3 "Pine Mushroom"

Prized in Japanese cuisine as the matsutake, there are few dedicated people who hunt in the dripping rain forests of the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island in search of a sedentary, but delicious quarry.

There is a mystique to mushroom hunting. Wherever mushrooms are found, there is a mushroom culture bubbling along in the closest community. Special spots are hoarded and certainly not shared.

The pine mushroom is the target on Vancouver Island in the fall. As the salmon spawn, decay and feed the surrounding forests, the pine mushrooms begin to show themselves under the leaf piles and moss encrusted roots of Douglas fir and hemlock trees.

According to the scientific community, there is a lack of knowledge about the pine mushroom and its role in the temperate rainforest ecosystem.

What is certain is if you are looking for someone with indepth knowledge of, and passion for, mushrooms you quickly find Bill Jones and visit his bucolic Deerholme Farm.

I visited Bill and got an immediate lesson in how to see something I’ve been looking at for a very long time. I also discovered that ‘mushroom fever’ is an actual condition. A condition that can happen at any time while walking in the woods in pine mushroom season.

Recipe

Pine mushroom risotto with seaweed soy and pine nuts

Bill Jones

from The Deerholme Mushroom Book Touchwood Editions 2013

This recipe is amazing with BC pine mushrooms. If they are not in season try a mixture of button, crimimi, oyster and shiitake mushrooms. Many types of dried seaweed will work in the dish. Soak the seaweed in water for 20 minutes; then chop finely with a sharp knife. Both seaweed and mushrooms are rich in umami and antioxidants.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

4 cups (1 L) chicken or mushroom stock

¼ cup (65 mL) dried seaweed (bull kelp, dulse, nori, etc), chopped finely

2 Tbsp (30 mL) grapeseed oil

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) Arborio rice

1 cup (250 mL) white wine

1 cup (250 mL) pine mushrooms, cleaned, sliced and diced

1 Tbsp (15 mL) garlic, minced

1 Tbsp (15 mL) Japanese soy sauce (with seaweed and dashi if possible)

1 cup (250 mL) shelled soy beans (edamame)

2 Tbsp (30 mL) butter (optional or 1 tsp (5 mL) sesame oil)

1/4 cup  (65 mL) toasted pine nuts

1 green onion, finely minced

Directions

In a saucepan, combine the stock and chopped seaweed, bring to a boil, reduce heat and keep warm.

Heat a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium high heat, add the oil and rice. Stir until the rice turns translucent and begins to stick to the bottom. Add the wine, garlic and mushrooms and stir until the wine is almost evaporated. Add the stock, 1 cup at a time, and stir frequently until the liquid is evaporated. Reduce heat if it cooks too quickly.

Continue with adding stock until the rice is tender with a bit of bite left in the centre. Add the soy, soy beans and butter. Stir to mix and season well with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving bowls and garnish with the pine nuts and the minced green onion.