Quickled Shiitakes

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Shiitake happens . . . to be my favorite mushroom.

It also happens to make a great pickle.

I roasted a handful of them Sunday to toss in this week’s batch of grain salad (alongside carrots, red onions, blanched kale, and a miso-carrot dressing). But a glance at our schedule for the next few days had me doubting I would get to the remaindered half-box before they got dry or rubbery or worse (say, lost for two weeks behind that petite red cabbage).

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Meaty, smoky, umami-y. I don’t want these guys to get lost.
Quick-Pickled Shiitake Mushrooms

Makes a simple, short, sweet-and-sour pint. The technique works beautifully with dried ‘shrooms, as well; just skip the added water in the recipe and sub in a half-cup of the broth leftover after you rehydrate. By weight, the ratio of fresh:dried mushrooms is about 4:1.

  • 3 ounces fresh shiitakes
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce (I prefer a low-sodium variety)
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 3 planks
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Even after a few days in brine, shiitake stems are super-chewy. I chose to cut them off here (though I tossed the stems in the bag of veggie odds and ends I keep in the freezer to make stock).

Brush any loose dirt off the mushrooms, remove any woody pieces from the stems (or remove the stems altogether), and cut the caps into half-inch slices.

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My half-box of CSA shiitakes made two loosely packed cups of sliced caps.

Combine everything except the mushrooms in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the sliced mushrooms, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Pour everything into a very clean glass jar or bowl, cover, and let cool completely. I usually try to wait a day before I break into them (to let the brine fully infuse), but they’re pretty great after even just an hour or two. Keep ’em in the fridge, and try to use ’em up within a month.

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After brining, everything packs tightly into a half-pint jar. I used a full pint, though, because when the pickles are gone, the leftover liquid’s a great, savory base for salad dressing.

Where do they shine? Well, I’ll spare the internet the 4,008,746th photo of avocado toast, but a few slices tucked between the green mash and a scrambled egg are mighty, mighty fine.

Where else? Pizza. Salads. Pulled pork sandwiches. Or chopped fine and added to your turkey-, chicken-, pork, or veggie-burger mix.

 

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