Pickled Shiitakes and Chevre on Cucumbers

April 9th, 2012 No Comments

 

In my opinion, shiitakes are never boring.

My father tells this story: long ago one of us youngsters was sitting on his lap, attempting to get his attention.  He was reading or talking or had other tasks at hand so he wasn’t giving his full consideration to the tot.  Determined to get what they needed, this child placed both of their little hands on either side of his face and, with a triumphant smile, turned his head to face theirs to draw the attention they so desired.

I think this describes the behavior of a shiitake!  They amiably force you to notice them.

Check out some nutritional benefits of shiitake mushrooms at this site.

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As I’ve said before, if you can use a technique on one thing it is likely you can use it on other things.  Vinegar and sugar work their magic on most any vegetable—beets, beans, carrots, okra, cucumbers, eggplant, onions, peppers—preserving their edible lifespan and adding sparkle to any meal.

I think it makes perfect sense to combine the surprising left-field tanginess of a shiitake mushroom with the sweet and sour of sugar and vinegar.  It creates a little wake up splash, a tweak, raising eyebrows and turning our attention to what is being chewed.

 

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After soaking in the brine for a few hours, the mushrooms were thinly sliced and covered in plastic to keep them moist and within the pickling liquid.  They’re so cute and sardine-like!

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Cucumber slices are a great vehicle for Small Bites—they’re like  a low-carb gluten-free bruschetta!  I use them all the time for appetizers, they work well with many toppings.

I used chevre (a soft goat cheese) for the glue in this tidbit.  Goat cheese can overpower the shiitakes, so I didn’t use very much.  One of the cucumbers in the picture has a soft feta instead, but I liked the chevre better.

 

Lenny Russo (Heartland Restaurant in St. Paul, MN) introduced pickled shiitakes to us when the Loring Café first opened.  I wrote nothing down so this ‘recipe’ has definitely mutated, especially since I can rarely get my hands on a good sherry vinegar now that I live on the outskirts of nowhere.

I may find it hard to find sherry vinegar, but I CAN get local shiitakes from some of friends in the area.  I love living near resourceful people!!

 

Pickled Shiitakes

Prep Time:  10 minutes   Cook Time:  10 minutes   Steep Time: 6 hours – 1 day

 

Remove the stems from:

8 oz. Shiitake Mushrooms

Combine in a non-reactive saucepan (stainless steel or glass):

1 clove Garlic, minced or 1 Tbsp Shallots, minced

1 – 2 tsp Fresh Rosemary, chopped

1/2 cup Red Wine Vinegar (with a dash of Port if you have it) or Sherry Vinegar

1/4 cup Water

5-6 Tbsp Sugar

Dash of Sea Salt

Dash of Black Pepper

Bring to a simmer so the sugar dissolves.  

Add:

8 oz. Shiitake Mushrooms

Simmer for a couple of minutes, then turn off the heat and let them steep while they cool.  Stir occasionally. 

When cool, cover with plastic so the shiitakes are pressed below the surface of the liquid.  Store in refrigerator.  They are best after steeping for a day. 

Slice in thin strips and use on cucumbers, or in a salad.

 

Assembly

Slice cucumbers and place a smidgen of the Chevre Goat Cheese on the slices.

Arrange shiitake slices on top. 

Enjoy!

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