Sunday, April 01, 2007

Black is classic - Is portobello and shitake mushroom penne, classic or just 'shroom madness?

Mushroom-based pasta is not as classic as tomato- or cream- based pasta. At least you don't see it all the time in pasta menus. I've got some whole big (really BIG) portobello mushrooms; and apart from grilling them, they are going into this healthy pasta for Cooking to Combat Cancer.



Some mushrooms, such as shitake, and reishi (灵芝, pronounced ling zhi) are more prominent among other mushrooms, for research on medicinal properties.

Shiitake are often dried and sold as preserved food in packages. These must be rehydrated by soaking in water before using. Many people prefer dried shiitake to fresh, considering that the sun-drying process draws out the superior umami flavor (umami: a Japanese word meaning "savory" or "meaty").

Portobello mushroom variety is considered gilled fungus. The diameter of Portobello mushroom's head can grow up to 15cm. Distinguished by their large size, thick cap and stem, portobello mushroom smells dinstinctively musky, has woodsy and enriched flavors as well as dense and meaty(beefy) texture.

Portobello and shitake mushroom penne (serves 2-3 as main dish; 4-5 as side dish)
Ingredients:
-1/2lb whole wheat penne pasta
-3 portobello mushroom caps, wiped clean and sliced
-1/4 pound shitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
-2 cloves crushed garlic
-1 shallot, thinly sliced
-1/4 teaspoon five-spice or allspice (eyeball)
-pinches of dried oregano
-1-2tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
-salt and pepper, to taste
-water, or chicken stock

Method:
1. Bring water to a boil and salt it for the pasta
2. In a saute/frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, shallots, portobellos, shitakes, oregano, allspice and some black pepper
3. Cook 10-12mins till mushrooms are dark and tender. Remove half the mushrooms and place them in a food processor. Add some water/chicken broth to the processor, grind into a thick sauce and add liquid back to the pan. Season with pinches of salt, to taste
5. Drain pasta when al dente and add it to the mushroom sauce to absorb flavor.
6. Serve the pasta over simply grilled portobello (see recipe snippet below)



Recipe snippet of easy grilling portobello: Several hours before cooking, place portobello mushrooms in a large sealable plastic bag. Add some olive oil, enough to coat all mushrooms, with excess of olive oil. Pinches of salt and freshly gound black pepper goes into the bag; then add some minced or crushed garlic. Seal bag and shake. Refrigerate for a few hrs. Before serving - remove the mushrooms from the bags and place on grill for 5mins per side or longer (don't overcook them!). Flip them once every few minutes.

Related posts:
Pasta ala Bak Chor Mee - Chinese,Italian Fusion
Linguine Vongole using Chinese Shaoxing Wine - Chinese,Italian Fusion
Linguine Gamberetto
Chicken Macaroni Soup
Beef and Mushroom Bolognese Penne

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