June 29, 2008

Mushroom Gathering/キノコ狩り

My son and I went mushroom gathering yesterday. Actually, we went to three different mountains, trying to get the mushrooms that are in season around this time of the year. We only succeeded in finding some honey mushrooms, which are in season in spring and fall. Honey mushrooms are called naratake in Japanese, but here in Niigata, they are called amandare. We gathered some bracken fern shoots (warabi in Japanese) as well, some of which were huge!

Unlike ostrich fern fiddleheads (kogomi or kogome in Japanese), bracken fern shoots (warabi) require the process called aku nuki (harshness removal). I use the special chemical shown below, whose main ingredient is baking soda. You can use baking soda instead. In the old days, people used ash.

This morning, the shoots look like this:

Drain, rinse, and soak in cold water for a few hours, drain, and put in the fridge or freezer.


nakji said...

This week I visited Nikko, where mountain vegetables are a specialty (according to our hostel!). I didn't get a chance to buy any, though, as I didn't know what to look for. Now I know, thank you!

In Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, fern shoots (called fiddleheads) are a spring time delicacy.

Hiroyuki said...

Well, I'd say sansai (mountain vegetables, wild edible plants) are a specialty in almost any rural area.
As I said on eGullet, the sansai in snowy areas like mine are said to be good (contain less aku).
In late March, fukinoto (butterbur sprouts) herald the coming of spring in my area, followed by zenmai, kogomi, warabi, udo, kinome, etc. Small, long bamboo shoots are now in season!