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Sep 17, 2010 02:13 PM

First Matsutake sighting of the season: Sushi Gen

I was back at sushi gen the other night and noticed a plate of cleaned matsutake mushrooms sitting on the sushi counter. I asked if they did dobinmushi. Nope. But they did offer it as sushi and grilled. I opted for grilled. It comes lightly grilled with bonito flakes and some light vinaigrette and baby greens. Decent flavor, not very strong though. It reminds me I really need to get to Mori or Kiriko for a proper matsutake dobinmushi.

11301 W Olympic Blvd Ste 102, Los Angeles, CA 90064

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    1. re: ipsedixit

      No clue. It was included in the sushi bill at the bar and that's pretty much a random number generator as far as I can tell.

      1 matsutake mushroom- medium size
      2 orders of hamachi belly sashimi- 3 slices each
      chu toro sushi x 2 orders: 2 pieces/order
      kanpachi sushi x 2 orders
      toro scallion handroll
      tai sushi x 1 order
      kohada sushi x 1 order
      sardine sushi x 1 order

      Total sushi bar tab: $120

    2. Where can I buy matsutake for home use? I've been interested in them for quite some time.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Johnny L

        If the season has already started, check your Farmer's Markets, or Japanese markets like Nijiya and Mitsuwa, and the IMP has carried them in bulk in the past.

        They will be from the Pacific NW, not Japan, however.

        1. re: Johnny L

          Favorite mushroom source is the mushroom guy at the Calabasas Farmer's market. Mushrooms are all he sells. As far as I can tell, he's more of a broker than a grower meaning he gathers them from various sources. But he's super nice, knowledgeable, and he has a great selection.

          1. re: Johnny L

            I saw matsutake at the San Gabriel Mitsuwa two days ago. I didn't notice where they were from, though at $80/lb I assume they were not the highest-grade Japanese ones.

            1. re: Johnny L

              Tons at Nijiya today (Sawtelle). Smallish packages run about $10 ea. Also seen at Grenada mkt up the street. The season has begun.

              Since they are easy to cook, it's worth splurging to buy them at the market. The trick is always to clean them without de-flavoring them...

              1. re: antonis

                Any tips? My one time experience trying to cook matsutake at home was pretty disasterous. I thought I cleaned it well, peeled the stems, and even pulled a mushroom faux pas by rinsing the cap in some water. But after sauteeing, there was still some very fine sand in the cap. Needless to say, it ruined the dish. This was back when I lived in the bay area and I got the mushrooms from the mushroom guy in the Ferry Building. I haven't attempted matsutake since and have no idea if the Nijiya ones have a similar problem.

                1. re: Porthos

                  >>I thought I cleaned it well, peeled the stems, and even pulled a mushroom faux pas by rinsing the cap in some water. But after sauteeing, there was still some very fine sand in the cap.<<

                  If I had to guess, I'd say your mushrooms were somehow either accidentally dropped in some soil, or were harvested in an unusually rough manner. IMHO, this was unfortunate but somewhat unusual as well. My mom used to prepare matsutake pretty regularly while available, and she never really mentioned any issues about large amounts of grit or soil in the actual cap of the mushrooms. The stems have to be cleaned and the outer layer peeled or cut away - that is where most of the debris usually is found.

                  My parents have a friend who used to live around Coos Bay and harvested them around his home. He would literally bring ice chests full down to their home prior to their "discovery" as a delicacy here. She never had an issue even with large amounts like that. Im not sure if you recall whether the caps were closed, opening, or fully open, but the closed caps are preferred. I'd give it another shot if I were you, but give your specimens close inspection (for flavor as well as obvious ease in preparation) if at all possible before laying our cash down.

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    As I understand it, the ones with the closed cap have more flavor. So I tried to choose the ones with more of a closed cap. However, I only had fully open vs half opened to choose from. I guess I could always give it another go. I guessed maybe it was the soil which this batch was grown in or that maybe matsutake preferred more sandy soil and that it might be a problem with all matsutake. Glad to hear that its not. Thanks for the tip.

                    1. re: Porthos

                      Matsutake grow under mid to older growth conifers in the wetter forests. They obviously grow out of the soil, but the makeup of the top soil should be high in mulch made up mostly from fallen pine needles, branches and bark, and then a fairly decent layer of pine needles on top of that. With that kind of top soil, sand and grit shouldn't be and issue with a closed cap, and might be an issue with an open cap if say for instance, a shovel was used to pull up the mushroom, and spade turning the soil flipped the open-capped mushroom upside-down, thereby catching the lower layers of soil upturned by the spade.

                      From what my parents' friend told quite a few years back (late 80s), the competition for matsutake had really changed the whole mushroom gathering culture up there from a family ritual of sorts, to outright disregard for private property and the environment in general. Squatters - at that time mostly Korean immigrants - would set up camps and scour the forests clean of all they could find, as the prices would drive them to search incessantly for these gems. This type of habitat disruption hasn't been good for the matsutake (or anything else for that matter), so getting nice specimens must be getting more difficult. What the situation is like up there now I have no idea, but "the good ones" I'm sure are fetching a premium.

                  2. re: Porthos

                    I know far less than bulavinaka about matsutake, but find that carefully cleaning with a damp towel is enough to remove any debris, at least with the ones I buy from Nijiya. It's probably OK to use a very wet towel if there still seems to be sand.
                    I believe the thing to preserve is the mucus membrane. In a pinch, even a brief rinse under low pressure water could be ok, though not ideal.
                    Again, I am no expert, but have enjoyed these pricey gems by buying them from the store in far greater volumes than I could have afforded if I had to pay at a restaurant for them.

                    I don't peel the stems, but cut off the very tip of the stem (at a diagonal). Then, I try to tear them by hand and when that seems too hard, I cut into the stems to start the tear.

              2. My first L.A. matsutake mushroom sighting this year was earlier this past week in the private room at Matsuhisa... Served with loup de mer, butter sauteed with Brussels sprouts. Awesome.

                129 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

                2 Replies
                1. re: J.L.

                  what's the going rate for the private room at matushisa, that's the tempura bar room, correct?

                  1. re: kevin

                    The private room has different grades of omakase. The highest one is priced at $150pp. There is tempura, but it is certainly NOT just tempura only. You can order anything from the menu in that room, on top of the omakase. The chefs there crank out some amazing stuff. I had me some sublime Japanese beef from Gunma Prefecture, and some off-the-cob fresh sweet corn tempura (not available in the Matsuhisa general dining room).

                    129 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211