When producing the ultimate SHUN STYLE noodle broth, a deciding factor in the taste was undoubtedly log-grown shiitake from Oita prefecture.
The rich aroma of this ingredient leaves a vivid impression when used in blended dashi soup stock. The high grade log-grown shiitake in question are Donko shiitake mushrooms from Oita by OSK. These dried shiitake are perfect for making stock and have limitless uses as an ingredient in their own right. These high grade mushrooms would make an excellent gift that is sure to please. That’s why, on this occasion, the SHUN GATE Editorial Team is excited to be able to offer Donko shiitake mushrooms from Oita.
Oita prefecture has an ideal climate for growing shiitake, and contributes around 40% to Japan’s total dried shiitake production volume. Taking advantage of Oita’s pristine natural environment, producers here have a strong preference for growing shiitake on log. By allowing more growing time, the resultant mushrooms are succulent and flavorsome. In the annual all-Japan dried shiitake contest, the Oita Shiitake Agricultural Cooperative (OSK) has earned first place in the group category a total of 48 times in 62 years, including 16 years in succession. We encourage you to sample OSK Donko Shiitake, produced using these award-winning mushrooms.
The editorial team here at SHUN GATE was lucky enough to receive a package of Donko shiitake mushrooms from Oita to try. In this article, we give you our impressions of these mushrooms, including taste, appearance and other important considerations.
When you open the package, you discover it chock-full of succulent shiitake. The r ich aroma is overwhelming?making you close your eyes just to savor the fragrance. It is exciting just imagining how good they will taste when cooked. When you hold one, it almost fills your hand, and you will be surprised at the thickness of the cap.
When rehydrated in water, the shiitake become even plumper, and the fragrance intensifies. When you have a taste, the succulence and aroma hits you even more. The shiitake have a springy, sufficiently full-bodied texture. When you take a bite, the strong taste fills your mouth, and the rich fragrance permeates your nostrils. We were startled by the steak-like chunkiness and pungent aroma. Members of the editorial team were brimming with cooking ideas to take full advantage of the Donko Shiitake?such as in chawanmushi savory egg custard, or as a main course prepared with butter and soy sauce.
They have a wonderful fragrance fitting for use in soup stock, and are voluminous enough to use as a main ingredient. With such a variety of uses, as a gift, they are sure to please anybody.
The shiitake used in Donko shiitake mushrooms from Oita by OSK are all log-grown, predominately using oak logs. Because the mushrooms grow according to the nutrients contained in the logs, they can be grown free of agrochemicals, and growers allow more time for the mushrooms to thicken and for the development of an attractive scaly cap.
We asked OSK’s representative, Mr. Abe, to explain the log-cultivation technique used in Oita.
“In Oita prefecture, logs are gathered close to where they are felled, and positioned to create a triangular space below. The variation in temperature created by the sunlight and shade, the enhanced airflow and the rain are used to encourage the fungal threads to spread across the logs. This open-style cultivation is called ‘rachibuse.’”
Oak is predominately used in the log-cultivation in Oita. Because the bark is thicker than other trees, the shiitake grow with a stronger cap and become more succulent.
Furthermore, the processing plant spares no effort to enhance the shiitake’s flavor during the drying. “The drying temperature and airflow is adjusted according to the pre-drying water content of the shiitake. In the drying process, guanylic acid, the component responsible for the umami flavor, increases, making this a critical process.”
The succulence of Donko shiitake mushrooms from Oita by OSK is due to the efforts of producers in applying cultivation technology. You can never have too much of their sumptuous flavor and aroma.
Writer : TOSHIFUMI KIUCHI / Photographer : KOJI TSUCHIYA
*Some of the images posted on our website have been provided by those whom we interviewed.
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