Talk About a Bad Hair Day…turn it into a delicious Bad Hair Day with Udon Noodles and Matsutakes!

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If you follow my blogs at all, you know I am big on wild game, but there are times that I like or need a vegetarian menu. I do like to keep it wild though…and love those wild shrooms!

Matsutake Mushrooms are a great favorite of mine – love the flavor. Much like the impact of a morel, they have a power-packed aroma and taste. Unlike the morel, that aroma of the Matsutake has a spicy overtone and complex flavor. The name of this shroom literally means “pine mushroom” based on where it generally grows…under the base of established pine trees (and only in certain states – Michigan, not being one of them). In some states, it is known that they grow under hemlocks.

The Matsutake Mushroom is revered throughout Asian countries – especially in Japan and China. I tend to pair it with my Asian-influenced recipes.

When cooking with these pine mushrooms, I find them better kept with foods that are not terribly creamy – keeping those natural fresh flavors more pure and pronounced without heavy sauces. As with other mushrooms, they have many healthful properties and are high in protein, low in fat, and loaded with vitamins B1, B2, and D.

Fresh Matsutake mushrooms are available September – January from reliable sources and available dry all year round. I get mine from Earthy Delights and reconstitute them.

Interesting enough, my father, Joe Mossok, who was less than an adventuresome eater, did talk about the unusual Matsutake Mushroom and actually enjoyed them in recipes I would prepare. He was introduced to them during the war when he was stationed in Okinawa. It was one of the few things I could give him without hiding them or avoiding any descriptions. Those mushrooms must have left a huge impact on him (or maybe it was the gorgeous Asian beauties serving them when he was in Japan)!

Udon Noodles and dried Matsutake Mushrooms

Udon Noodles and dried Matsutake Mushrooms

Matsutakes rehydrating - see at end of recipe for instructions

Matsutakes rehydrating – see at end of recipe for instructions

Matsutakes cooking in their reconstituting liquid

Matsutakes cooking in their reconstituting liquid

Matsutakes and onions cooked and ready for the recipe

Matsutakes and onions cooked and ready for the recipe

Cooked drained hot Udon mixed with butter

Cooked drained hot Udon mixed with butter

Onions and Matsutakes added to the cooked Udon

Onions and Matsutakes added to the cooked Udon

Draining pancakes ready for the oven

Draining pancakes ready for the oven

RMJ’s Udon and Matsutake Mushroom Pancakes Bad Hair Day with Sriracha Aioli
These pancakes are great on their own or use them as a bed for a protein of your choice – they make a dramatic presentation.
Note: If you need instructions for reconstituting mushrooms, scroll down and see end of the recipe.
Yield: 10-14 depending on size

Ingredients for the Pancakes:
2 ounces Matsutake mushrooms, reconstituted
1 lb. dry Japanese Udon Noodles
4 Tablespoons butter
3 cups chopped sweet onions (previously peeled, trimmed and chopped)
4 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Canola Oil

Ingredients for the Aioli:
Kewpie Mayo (found in Asian Markets and many grocery stores)
Sriracha

Special Equipment:
1/2 cup measuring cup with flat bottom or scoop of the same size
Baking sheet

Directions for the Pancakes:
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, sauté the matsutakes in the liquid they were reconstituted in, adding a little liquid as needed for about 6-8 minutes until thoroughly cooked. Set the cooked mushrooms aside to cool; rough chop or process slightly so mushroom pieces are broken up.

In a large pot over medium heat, cook noodles according to package directions (note: don’t overcook – keep them al dente). Drain noodles and add butter; set aside.

At the same time, while you are cooking the noodles – Sauté the onions in a bit of oil; cook until golden brown (not burnt). Cool onions slightly and add to the noodles. Add mushroom pieces to the mixture; mix well.

Add eggs and remix making sure all ingredients are evenly distributed!!
Add salt and pepper; mix thoroughly. Adjust seasonings if necessary.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Set rack to middle position.

In a large sauté pan, heat enough oil for frying the pancakes, heat until hot. With a measuring cup, scoop up ½ cup noodle/mushroom mixture; add to pan in about ½ cup portions. Gently press each pancake with the bottom of the cup (to flatten slightly and keep them similar in size).

Fry each pancake on one side until golden brown; using two spatulas gently flip over (these are very delicate) and brown the second side. Once browned and crisp, lay on paper toweling covered baking sheet, let oil absorb into the toweling. Place in oven for about 12 minutes to make sure egg is totally cooked.

While Pancakes are in oven, make Sriracha Aioli:
In a bowl, add Kewpie Mayo and as much Sriracha as you desire. This is a personal preference! Play with proportions…I like it hot!!

Reconstituting Dry Mushrooms:
I always begin the reconstituting process by lightly brushing my dried mushrooms over a clean piece of paper – I use a soft baby hairbrush, natural bristle paintbrush, or a fluffy natural bristle cosmetic brush (one generally used for blush-on rouge). Regardless of the specific brush I am using, I initially use a brand new clean brush and set it aside in a marked plastic bag “MUSHROOMS” – I never want that brush being used for its intended purpose – it is kept solely for shrooms.

Why the clean paper below it? To catch any spores that may be released in the process. When done brushing the mushrooms, I then take the spore spotted paper and shake it out in my wooded lot with the hope that new mushrooms will appear the following year (wishful thinking!)

While I’m busy brushing those masters of camouflage, I boil about 4-6 cups of water and let it cool slightly. Placing the brushed dried mushrooms in an extra large measuring cup or bowl and pour the previously boiled water over them. I usually set a ladle or kitchen tool on the top of the water to keep the morels submerged for 20-30 minutes to reconstitute. Once plumped, I remove the mushrooms from the water with a slotted spoon and retain the mushroom-infused liquid. The mushroom liquid is great for assisting in the sautéing of mushrooms, used as part of a soup base, grain preparation, gravy base, or for additional recipes. I never just throw out the reconstituting liquid…if ever there just too much to deal with – I freeze it in ice cube trays or use it in soups or stews as part of the liquid base.

Serving Bad Hair Day Pancakes with Aioli, Kimchi, and tea

Serving Bad Hair Day Pancakes with Aioli, Kimchi, and tea

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