Like people, foods seem to have personalities. Take the ambitious beanstalk, or the fierce and courageous artichoke, the cheerful strawberry, the expansive pumpkin, the persistent asparagus, the determined sprouts and the delicate salad greens. The Cinnamon Cap mushroom strikes me as quite a jaunty fellow. There he is, with his golden orangey cap tilted with verve as he and his mates grow up together in clamoring clusters on edible ivory stalks. How could you possibly resist him?
-Photo by Hillbourne
Why try? This beautiful cinnamon-colored fungus is believed to be native to Japan, but it is a valued food source throughout Asia. Today it is grown all around the world, though it remains the most cultivated mushroom in Japan. In that country, one vegetal source claims it is a Kuritake mushroom, while another says it is a Nameko mushroom . The photos say they are twins. In parts of the American west, it is known as the Butterscotch mushroom. However, as it is becoming more widely known, the most common name it responds to is Cinnamon Cap. It has a mild nutty and earthy flavor and a firm texture. It retains that firmness even after cooking.
Just as its many cousins, the Cinnamon Cap mushroom works amiably with a diverse and wide-ranging group of flavors, spices and herbs. It is a great addition to soups, stews and braises as it has a gelatin-like surface which acts as a natural and flavorful addition to those same dishes. That same quality, creates those very slippery Asian noodles that are so perfect for that required, lip-smacking slurpiness
-Photo by Hajime Nakan
In the wild, Cinnamon Caps grow on dead stumps and fallen logs. Here in the northeast, these mushrooms are cultivated in open bags of oak, beech or other hardwood leaves, or on inoculated logs.
-Photo by Hahnconsultinggroup.com
These gorgeous dashingly spry mushrooms are at home in Asian and western dishes alike. Simply roasted, Cinnamon Caps have enough of their own flavor to entitle them to a place at the table. This week we’re offering a Chicken and Cinnamon Cap Stew with Ginger and Anise recipe in a blend of western and eastern influences.