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Chawanmushi with local mushrooms

Chawanmushi with local mushrooms

Salt of the Earth, Pittsburgh

Foraged mushrooms add both local color and umami to this dish that, with its seaweed and bonito flakes, already is an umami powerhouse.

Chef Kevin Sousa starts by making a dashi, or seaweed-and-bonito stock, with kombu seaweed, smoked bonito, mushroom stems, garlic, ginger and sake. Then he adds a beaten egg and slowly simmers the stock until it thickens. He thickens it slightly more with a little kudzu, which he buys in crystallized form and grinds into a fine powder.

He covers the mixture and lets it steam for around 20 minutes.

“It gives the impression that it’s solid, but really it gives up to your spoon and is very creamy, with a very umami flavor,” Sousa said.

He takes locally foraged mushrooms (hen of the woods are pictured here, but he uses whatever is available) and sautés them lightly with ginger. He lets them cool and tosses them with mirin, a little sesame oil, and chopped razor clam or other mollusk. He uses them to garnish the dish along with shiso, scallion, and small calendula flowers, and charges $11 for it.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].
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