Monday, April 1, 2013

UnRecipe: Eating Easter and the Sacrilicious Mushroom Log

I realize Easter Sunday was yesterday, but since this isn't a particularly traditional Easter meal, I'm posting it on a non-traditional day. I wasn't raised in a particular faith, just your typical Godless Heathen Asian Household. But we did dye eggs for Easter, which was something I really enjoyed. Even that acrid, sour smell that permeated the house as you'd drop the PAAS dye tablets into coffee mugs full of heated vinegar -- I'd dye those eggs like a boss, to get them as saturated with as much color as possible, knowing we'd be cursed with rainbow-hued egg salad sandwiches for a week. I don't dye eggs anymore, but I continue to hold eggs in high regard, since they are a pretty magical and wonderful food. So Happy Belated Easter -- let's Put an Egg On It!

Happy Easter - put an egg (or two) on it - Photo by Wasabi Prime

Nothing says Easter Sunday Dinner like... Vegetable Bi Bim Bap! It's true, there is literally nothing Eastery about Korean comfort food, but who cares, it's got gorgeous eggs on it. What is somewhat Easter-like and religiously insensitive, is how glad I was to discover our grown-your-own shiitake mushroom log had miraculously come back to life.  Resurrected, as it were. Praise the mushroom log - It Has Risen! I did a post about first getting the mushroom log last year, and how the supposedly easy directions were hardly that, and no mushrooms were growing from this thing, just creepy green mold. I did what any level-headed person would do, I hurled the thing into the backyard in a fit of rage and just forgot about it for months. Luckily, I hurled it under some trees, where it basically was put in its natural environment, so when the temperatures were optimal, it started growing shiitake mushrooms! 

Our backyard miralce -- the resurrection of the mushroom log - Photos by Wasabi Prime
When I was fairly certain the mushrooms growing from the log were the edible kind, and not the ones that would kill me in an instant or give me a wicked high, I moved the log to a more accessible spot, the top of our strawberry pot that I usually use for planting herbs. Did I become a mycologist and not mention it? No, I just saw the squirrels snacking on the fresh mushrooms and seeing as how I hadn't noticed any poisoned or tripped-out squirrels falling from the trees, I figured we were safe. Plus, shiitake mushrooms are a distinctive-looking fungus, with its thin, woody stem and flat umbrella-like cap. But again, no dead squirrels, so I was feeling quite confident. 

Homegrown mushrooms with Put An Egg On It goodness - Photos by Wasabi Prime
I proceeded to make a very delicious dinner of vegetable bi bim bap, with wilted greens, pickled radish, sauteed carrot, the fresh shiitake mushrooms, and an egg white omelet, with the raw yolks to top the finished plate. A lot of kochujang/gochujang sauce drizzled on top, and it was a Put An Egg on It masterpiece that puts any Easter Ham to shame! I didn't add any meat, but it would have been just as good with some sliced pork, chicken or beef. I just wanted to celebrate the fact that we had fresh shiitake mushrooms grown from our own backyard, which I was pretty pleased with. They tasted earthy and tender. And poison/hallucinogenic-free. Winning. 

Mushroom bounty was great in mapo tofu, as well - Photos by Wasabi Prime
I had enough mushrooms to add to a wok of mapo tofu. Also as un-Easter as it gets, but plenty delicious. I only mention this because I tried a method of cooking the tofu that I'd read in Nicole Mones' novel, The Last Chinese Chef. It's a gorgeous and heartfelt book, but be forewarned, don't read it on an empty stomach, you'll be interrupted with loud tummy rumblings when you get through all the incredible food descriptions. No spoilers, but there's one part where cooking tofu is described being cooked slowly in salted water, gently heated and brought to a gentle simmering temperature so that it retains its silky, tender consistency. I've always been used to throwing firm or extra firm tofu in a dish like mapo tofu towards the end, when the ingredients and sauce is still simmering on a low boil, which is apparently still too hot, at least if you want to give the tofu a really delicate mouthfeel. I cubed some firm tofu and placed it in cold salted water and brought it all to a simmer on the stove, but not to a boil, just warming it, and then gently drained the tofu off before setting it aside. I cooked up the mapo tofu meat, vegetables and sauce per usual, and then added the warmed tofu at the end, right before serving, since it was still warm. I have to say, Miracle Number Two: the tofu's consistency was outstanding. Still firm, but a very tender, creamy interior. Imagine a firm tofu outside, but soft/silken interior. The fresh mushrooms were completely eclipsed by the tofu and I was very glad to have learned this technique.

So how does one round-out a completely nontraditional Easter menu? With marshmallow Peeps, of course. I buy a package every year because they are the most adorable-looking candy in the universe, eat one, get immediately grossed out, and promptly give the rest away. Ah, Easter!

"Frank, you okay? Frank...? Nooooooooooo!!!!!!!"  Happy Easter - Photo by Wasabi Prime

1 comment:

  1. yum, beautiful! i would have topped with two eggs as well : )


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