Valley Bounty: Shiitake Mushrooms

I had the opportunity to go visit Mycoterra mushroom farm just down the street from the CISA office earlier this week, and I have to say, being surrounded by thousands and thousands of growing mycelia (the underground “root” part of the mushroom, to oversimplify it a bit) is pretty bizarre and fascinating. I mentioned this to Julia, the owner, and she explained that the majority of the fungi around us were shiitake derived from a single strain — in a sense, she said, we were completely surrounded by one organism. The feeling of being dwarfed by something I would otherwise consider tiny has lingered in me since then, and it’s made me want to engage more fully with a food I otherwise tend to overlook.

Much of my previous experience cooking shiitakes involved using them as an ingredient in stir fry, pasta, and other dishes full of strong competing flavors, so I wanted to try something that would really let them shine on their own. I ended up just sautéing some chopped shiitake in butter with a little bit of garlic, salt, and pepper, to serve as a side dish—their earthy flavor with just a hint of sweetness makes them a great companion for chicken, pork, and beef.

Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)