Monday, 12 December 2011
In the small town of Kemer, in southern Turkey, is a shoe shop with a sideline in mushrooms. This is my dad's local shoe shop while he's in Turkey, so he's got to know the owner a bit, and asked why there was a sign outside the shop with pictures of mushrooms. Not just any mushrooms, mind you: matsutake are a Japanese favourite, selling for prices in the hundreds or even thousands of dollars per kilo. Which, quite frankly, sounds rather a lot for even the tastiest funghi. They grow up in the Turkish mountains, and Hasan exports them - via Fethiye and Istanbul - to Japan. Well, of course we had to try some to find out what all the fuss is about. Apparently it's the closed-cap ones that are the most valuable, so we got some of the opened-out-and-slightly-cheaper ones.
We cooked them up with loads of garlic and some fresh thyme that we'd picked in the nearby mountains. The flavour wasn't much to write home about, in my opinion, but they did have a very good, solid texture so I can see why they might be good as a base for other flavours and sauces. But the top Japanese prices still seem a bit excessive to me! I'd love to know more about what Japanese dishes they're used in, and whether they really are worth the price.