Shiitake Mushrooms: The Quest, The Diversions, Then Dinner

I was hoping to get some shiitake mushrooms at this past weekend’s farmer’s market. I saw a post of creamy polenta with russian kale and shiitake on Tartelette on Friday, and figured since she is writing from Charleston (just one state away), maybe I could find some still at our market, but there weren’t any.

It was by no means a loss though, as the free guest chef speaker this week was this year’s James Beard Award winner for the Southeast Best Chef,  Linton Hopkins from Restaurant Eugene.

He blew my and everyone else’s minds talking about the long lists of ingredients and preparations that go into his salads. From fermenting, to roasting young vegetables in the ashes made from older bulk vegetables, to how to make powders from oils and using the roots of plants. He said there are sometimes 40 plus ingredients in his salads (he likes each bite to be a different experience) and the acronym he thinks of when preparing any dish is  “FASSAB”; Fat, Acid, Sweet, Sour Aromatic, and Bitter. Seems pretty logical and could work for the home cook, too. I think I may hang onto that. Another thing that grabbed me was that he took a poached egg, put it in a blender and dressed some of the salad with it. Mmm… Creamy egg.

But back to shiitakes.  I have been ogling some mushroom logs at the gardening store for months, wondering about them.  After being let down at the farmer’s market, today was the day I finally caved in. I figured since Mother’s Day is fast approaching I could take this opportunity to get myself  the gift that no one in my family would dare give me – a log…with drill holes… filled with shiitake fungi spores.   I had to giggle when I was walking to my car with the log in my arms, with instructions on how to care for my log… very Twin Peaks Log Lady.

“the” log

It is probably a bit late, seasonally speaking, but I’m doing a little research and considering shocking it in cold water for a day or two to make the spores think that winter has just come and gone. If you happen to have any experience with growing Westwind Wide Range Shiitake in the South, by all means, share your expertise with me.

So anyway, I still have to eat dinner tonight and I craved that mushroom polenta. I picked up some shiitake from Whole Foods, and took my neighbor’s generous offer to use some of their home-grown Italian kale from their sunny plot.

So I got to make Tartelette’s Creamy Polenta with shiitake and Kale after all…

Have you also been noticing the food trend lately of putting an egg on top of something and calling it supper? I kind of like it.

One last thing,  just want to share my giddiness about next week… I’ll be having  a guest poster ‘over’ to my blog to cook me dinner with one of my all-time favorite vegetables, asparagus! Have a look at Chez Chloe’s luscious dishes and you might understand why I’m excited!

25 thoughts on “Shiitake Mushrooms: The Quest, The Diversions, Then Dinner

  1. Nothing says ‘I love you mum’ like a dirty great drilled log!! 😉 Love it!

    The food looks amazing, u always catch me at my hungriest!

  2. OMG…I want a mushroom log. I saw they had a similar thing but it was a box at The Fresh Market but I did not buy it. I hate asparagus. It is the only veggie that I don’t eat. Do you think that you not only got all of the cooking genes but also the asparagus gene?

    • Oh I definitely got the asparagus gene! The log will take awhile.. I saw the box thing too, but it wasn’t a mushroom variety I particularly cared for… Sounds like fun though.
      PS. Can you believe it, I found your comment in my spam folder?! what-up? definitely not spam.

  3. I love a poached egg on many many things. This looks super delicious and I like the kitchen window. I’m thinking of returning to school… I’ve been spelling shiitake wrong too. I had a renter once who took a back room, sterilized it, covered it in plastic and began spawning mushrooms. Can’t say I ever saw one. I like the idea of a log in the yard better.

  4. I’m Cuban, and much of our “dinners” in Havana consisted of an egg over all of our food– mostly out of necessity and lack of other food! The trend there has been traditional. I looove it here in the states and elsewhere. I want to put an egg on everything… nice dish! 🙂

    • Thanks! I will update, but..not for awhile I suppose… I wrote the mushroom log man, and he said it should take 6-12 months, and then after that it should fruit 3-5 times per year for 3-5 years….

  5. I worked on a Shiitake Mushroom farm in Gainesville, Florida for a few months a couple of years ago- we used shade tents to keep our mushrooms out of the sun, and they required regular misting for perhaps four hours a day, though I am not sure of the specifics anymore! We also soaked the logs at some point in their cycle, but now I cannot remember if it was right after they were innoculated or at some point during their process…If you are still looking for information, I can try to put you in touch with the farm down there and perhaps you could get some answers 🙂 Best of luck! Just email me-

  6. Thanks! I contacted the mushroom guys and asked a bunch of questions. I gave them the lot number, and told them where I live and such and they said in six to 12 months I can expect my first crop and then after that 3-5 times a year. They said at least 80% shade, so I put the log at the back of my property, in the lowest lying area… basically moss can grow there, so It’s as good as I’m going to get, but I may have to water it sometimes if we don’t have a rainy year. Thanks for the offer for help! That sounds like an interesting experience you had! and Gainesville is such a cool town… lived there during my UF years… and really liked it.

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