This is the ultimate taste of autumn; grilled matsutake 松茸 and ginkgo nuts or “gin-nan” 銀杏. Of course real Japanese Mastutake cannot be had here in the U.S. and, even if available, it would be prohibitively expensive. Last year, I posted several dishes made with North American matsutake. We had the first matsutake of the year at Tako Grill and after that, I promptly ordered matsutake from Oregon Mushroom as I did last year. The price appears to be a bit higher this year but “cheap” compared to either Mexican or Japanese matsutake. The Mexican mushroom is closer in appearance to the Japanese kind and they fetch higher prices. The appearance and smell of the North American matsutake are not as good as the Japanese but the will do for us.
The simplest and the best way to enjoy matsutake is simply grilled and eaten with a squeeze of “kabosu” カボス citrus and salt. I also added grilled gingko nuts or “gin-nan” 銀杏 (I could have collected gingko fruit from gingko trees in our areas but the effort for preparation and not so pleasant smell of the fresh flesh of the fruit forced me to use a canned prepared gingko nuts instead). I served grilled matsutake and gingko nuts with small wedges of lime (since I did not have “kabosu” or “yuzu” 柚子 fruit, this is closest I can come) and salt. I opened a bottle of Juyondai sake 十四代 I had for this occasion (above). (I have one more left).
Matustake preparation: In the image #1 below, you see how dirty it was when I received it (#1 left). I first used a dump paper towel to remove the dirt but you need to use a sharp paring knife to scrape off embedded dirt (#1 right). You really have to make sure all the dirt and sands were removed (#2). I prepared special bamboo skewers by shaving regular bomb skewer into very thin skewers so that it will not break the gingko nuts when pierced (#2 shown with two cleaned matsutake).
To prevent the matustake from getting too dry while being grilled, I sprinkled sake over the sliced matsutake (sliced in 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick) and let it soak in for 3-4 minutes before grilling. Since I could not use a charcoal fire this time, I used a Japanese diffuser and a metal wire grill to grill directly over the gas fire (#4). I used a rather hot fire to make grill marks and also cook the matsutake quickly without drying it out (for 3-4 minutes or less). The gingko nuts only grilled for only 1-2 minutes but you have to be careful not to burn the skewers.