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Jul 19, 2013 05:21 PM

Paper towel to cook shiitake?

I was just watching a video on the Cooking with Dog channel (great videos) over at Youtube, and at 1:36, they instruct to put a sheet of paper towel (photo attached) over boiling shiitake mushrooms. Can somebody tell me what the purpose of this might be? Is it to keep the 'shrooms submerged? The idea of the chemicals used to process the paper leaching into the cooking water does not appeal to me; I'd probably use a clean handkerchief instead.

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  1. I think this maybe an attempt at "nimono". Japanese style simmering is called nimono. A pot covered with a drop lid is used, usually made of wood, but parchment paper can be substituted. Both the drop lid and parchment paper is round to just fit inside the pot A wood drop lid floats on the surface of the liquid, keeping the ingredients submerged.

    The use of something absorbant (paper or cloth towel) should be avoided. I do not have a wood drop lid; for a longer simmer I use an appropriate sized plate for shorter simmers, I use parchment paper cut into a round.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Alan408

      Someone in Japan must have realised many centuries ago that by keeping all the, probably vegetables, submerged in just simmering water using a wooden board or woven mat allows for the water to stay hotter in the cooking vessel and the veg to cook evenly with minimum use of precious fuel for the cooking fire.

      1. re: Alan408

        Thanks for the reply. Sorry I'm so late in responding!

      2. Not sure why you would boil mushrooms??????

        3 Replies
        1. re: ranger99

          Because it is a recipe that uses dried shiitake mushrooms?

          1. re: wattacetti

            I never 'boil' anything.
            Dried mushrooms should be rehydrated in room temperature water using just enough water to cover. That way the water can be used and the intensity of the mushroom flavor preserved with the water.
            I rehydrate wild dried mushrooms often.
            As an example of how to use the liquid here's what I do when making a couple of fried eggs:
            Med. hot pan>then add a T of clarified butter>when the butter is the same temp. as the pan carefully slide in a couple of room temperature eggs>add one T of the mushroom liquid>put clear glass lid on pan>remove pan from heat> watch as the egg yolks slowly become opaque>this will only take a couple of minutes>carefully slide eggs onto serving plate>reserve the rest of the 'mushroom water' to add to pretty much any savory dish later or freeze in ice cube trays then into a Zip lock bag.
            I've watched people do some pretty strange things visa vi cooking on Youtube.

            1. re: Puffin3

              Thanks again. If the recipe says boil, I boil, until I myself discover a reason not to. It makes sense to me that by simmering the shrooms, more of the flavor is transferred to the broth which is what I'm seeking. Also, rehydrating is not the same as cooking, and I like my mushrooms (and their soaking water) fully cooked, but that's just me.