This is a variation from “Deep fried stuffed peppers” (Mark’s book p20). This is also a fairly common dish. Actually, one of the reasons I made this dish is (like Pork meat ball nabe dish) to use up the meat stuffing I made for gyoza. Somehow we did not feel like having gyoza repeated for a few days. In any case, the recipe is rather simple.
For the meat stuffing, you could use any kind of ground meat such as pork, chicken or even beef or a mixture of beef and pork. Here, since I used gyoza stuffing, it is made of pork, minced cabbage, scallion, ginger, garlic and seasoned with soy sauce, mirin and black pepper. You could use just meat but I prefer to lightly season it, at least with salt and pepper. Since this is a type of tempura, you could eat this with a tempura dipping sauce with grated daikon or graded daikon with red pepper “momijo-oroshi” 紅葉おろし as suggested in the recipe in the Mark’s book or with a lemon and salt or just with a lemon juice as we did here because the meat stuffing was seasoned.
I used small fresh mushroom (about 2 inch in diameter). Although it is optional, I made a traditional decorative star-shaped cut on the surface of the shiitake mushroom as seen above. Take the meat stuffing and put it against the gill side of the mushroom and make a small mound. The amount of the stuffing depends on the size of the mushroom, I used 1-2 heaping tsp for each mushroom. I used a rather thin tempura batter. I made about 1/3 cup of the batter with 2tsp each of cake flour and potato starch and added cold water (from the refrigerator dispenser) to make the rather loose batter.
I heated peanut oil or vegetable oil in a pan to 375F (or you could use the more imprecise but easy method of judging the oil temperature as I described before). I used green beans as an accompaniment. I snipped both ends of green beans and coated them with batter. I fried the beans for 1 minute. Then, I coated the stuffed shiitake mushrooms with the batter and fried them meat stuffing side down first and after 2-3 minutes flipped them over and fried another 2 minutes on the mushroom side. I drained the stuffed mushrooms on a pepper towel or on a metal grate.
Small Japanese green peppers called “pea-man” ピーマン required in the recipe in Mark;’s book are difficult to get here in the U.S. and certainly, western green peppers are too thick and too strong in flavor for this dish. Especially since my wife does not like green peppers, shiitake mushroom is better choice for us. Shiitake mushroom has a nice meaty texture and we really like this combination.