A couple of years back, the New Yorker had a profile on a Cambodian guy out in the Northwest who foraged matsutake mushrooms. He’d lost a leg to a land mine early on so he had to wear a prosthesis. But that didn’t stop him from going out to hunt matsutake, prized by the Japanese––patches were once off-limits to non-Imperials––for hours at a time in the hopes of making some cash.
Karmic justice or ironic coincidence that Korea has become its leading exporter?
As a kid, back in Cambodia, this guy hunted mushrooms in the woods and roasted them alongside hummingbirds he’d shot down with his slingshot. Access the magazine’s archives so you can see a picture of him in the woods, solemn in his concentration, with his sack and stick. I like how he reminds me of Anna Karenina’s Konstantin Levin who, while foraging mushrooms, becomes so engrossed in what he’s doing that he forgets to propose marriage to the girl he loves. Ah, the allure and lure of mushrooms!
And if you’re looking for a versatile ingredient, look no further––white buttons on pizza, crimini in linguine, shiitake in my japchae, portobello for your burger! The mycelium’s the limit!
Here’s a thoughtful take on the enoki mushroom from The Vegan 8 Korean:
Vegan Bulgogi Style Mushrooms Recipe
about 4 packs of enoki mushrooms (you don’t have to only use enoki mushrooms, but it’s important to have them in there as they form the main flavor for the dish)
10 dashes of onion powder (or to taste)
10 dashes of garlic powder (or to taste)
salt to taste
15 dashes of black pepper (or to taste)
1 Tbs of soy sauce (or to taste)
1 Tbs of sesame oil (optional)
1/2 Tbs of sugar
1. Wash the enoki mushrooms and cut off the ends. Tear the mushrooms into bite sizes.
2. Heat the pan to medium high heat and add the veggie oil. Add the enoki mushrooms.
3. Add the onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, sugar, soy sauce, and sesame oil if you decide to use it. Add more or less to your liking.
4. Cook until enoki mushrooms are cooked and wilted. You’ll see some water coming out of the mushrooms (so yummy, we love putting it over our rice).
5. Enjoy! It’s such an easy way to enjoy the traditional Korean bulgogi flavor. Really quick and easy and soooo yummy.