May 8, 2012

Maitake and Kogomi (or Kogome)/舞茸(まいたけ、マイタケ)とこごみ(こごめ)

I just wanted to talk a little bit about the origins of the two words, maitake and kogomi (or kogome).  Kogomi (or kogome) refers to young shoots of ostrich fern (fiddleheads).
But first, let me tell you that I was lucky enough to buy a box (500 g) of Yukiguni maitake for 380 yen and a pack of kogomi for 98 yen today.
舞茸(まいたけ、マイタケ)とこごみ(こごめ)という2つの言葉の語源についてちょっと話したいと思います。こごみ(こごめ)とは、ostrich fernの若芽(fiddleheads)のことです。
でも、その前に、言いたいことがあります。今日、運良く、雪国まいたけを一箱(500 g入り)を380円で、こごみ一パックを98円で買えました。

Mai comes from the verb mau (to dance) and -take is a suffix meaning mushroom.  There are two possible explanations:  1) The mushroom looks as if dancing, and 2) The mushroom is so hard to find that if you find it, you will feel like dancing.

Kogomi comes from the verb kagamu (to bend down, to squat, etc.).




okasan said...

Thanks for the explanation of maitake and kogome! なるほど!
That is a super cheap price for both items. We can't get 舞茸here, but once in awhile we can find こごめin the spring time but for 6 times your price for equivalent quantity. Is 舞茸 more soft or crunchy in texture? Does it have a fragrance? I would love to be able to try it some day!

okasan said...

後記:I think the maitake box alone is worth 380円。 I am happy to hear your 'find'! 笑

Sissi said...

Thank you for the explanation. (As for the mushroom, of course I prefer to believe in the second theory!). I have never tasted either, but I have heard Koreans living in Switzerland organise every year special trips to the first to pick up fern tips. I didn't know the Japanese eat these too.
I hope I can taste these one day!

Fräulein Trude said...

This fiddlehead fern is pretty interesting. I would really like to taste it since I have read so much about it. But I have never seen this vegetable in shops. Maybe I should order some ostrich fern from a greenery and grow it as edible garden decoration on a remote patch. It takes 5-6 plants to have a rather nice patch of wilderness - each is 3.50 Euro but it spreads quickly since our soil is the best for ferns. So maybe next year I could cook some.

Sissi: In Germany it is forbidden to pick and collect ostrich fern in the wild. It is on the red list (endangered) - quite bad for korean trips. Could turn into a rather expensive experience.

Hiroyuki said...

okasan: In general, maitake is spongy and soft, especially the upper part, but good cultured ones like this one
is rather crunchy (in a good way). It has a distinctive fragrance.

Sissi: The Japanese love sansai (edible wild plants)!

Kiki: In late April, I got a phone call from my father, asking me to dig some warabi (bracken fern) roots and send them to him! He said he wanted to plant them in a patch to grow. I thought it was almost impossible for me to find warabi roots in the soil, so I googled and found a source.
20 warabi roots, 3,780 yen!

I really hope you will succeed in your attempt!!

Sissi said...

Kiki, I don't know if it's protected here but if it was they wouldn't risk announcing it on internet I think...
I know in some European countries wild garlic is protected, but in Switzerland it's not, so maybe it depends on the country?

torwen said...
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torwen said...

Lucky you! :)
Maitake is really really expensive in Germany und kogome, well, Fräulein Trude's idea to grow it in the garden is probably the cheapest way to get hold of them :))
Although you can substitute with bracken (Adlerfarn) heads which you can collect.

Where I came from one called mushrooms that grow in circles around trees dancing mushrooms, too; because they believed witches (or fairies) were dancing around the tree and thus causing the growth of the mushrooms. Isn't maitake growing around oak trees?

Hiroyuki said...

torwen: Unfortunately, bracken (warabi in Japanese) is quite different from kogomi, and is not considered a substitute for kogomi.

I'm not sure what you mean by "oak", but I guess you are right. It often grows at the root of an old mizunara tree.

添え状 said...


Hiroyuki said...