Is Mushroom Powder your secret ingredient?

Mushroom powder brings pow! to popcorn
Sometimes taking a wrong turn by the bananas in a supermarket that you are not completely au fait with can prove more than fruitful. It can open up whole new avenues and perhaps lead  you to a particular gondola you have never noticed before. You have stumbled through a doorway to enchantment, and hey -ho, a plethora of culinary trivia that immediately grabs your attention. Welcome to a whole new world of possibilities and things your shopping list hadn´t previously told you that you needed.  While out shopping the other day I stumbled upon what might I call a "posh ingredients" section. Sitting next to the artesan salts I noticed some jars of dried mushroom powder.I am well versed in the capabilities of Porcini mushrooms and only last week finished up using a bag of these dehydrated fungi. It got me thinking. I noticed that when I had finished using the mushrooms for the intended purpose of making a stock with them, there was some ‘dust’ left in the bottom of the bag, not dissimilar to what I had seen in the supermarket. As any inquisitive chef like me would do, I tasted the mushroom “dust.” Eureka! I was amazed at how much flavour it had. It got my cogs in motion and I started playing around .I began making my very own mushroom powder—with dried shiitake and porcini using first the oven, then blending the ‘shrooms in a spice grinder. Flavourwise, the results are intense. 
If Thai fish sauce is liquid umami in a bottle, this is powdered umami in a jar, and an indispensable tool in your kitchen arsenal. - Michelle Tam, Nom Nom Paleo
Just adding one simple element—the powder—amps up a dish without screwing up the simple perfection of it. The dehydration process intensifies the flavour and allows one to add that mushroom flavour  to the dish, while still keeping the focus on the protein. Sometimes leftover crumbs are the mother of invention. 
Not stopping with ‘shrooms, other veggies can be dehydrated, including olives, beetroot, spinach, carrots and tomatoes, turning each unique powder into garnishes for plates that add not only colour, but a jolt of unexpected flavour. Because the flavour is more intense, it gets the palate asking questions, ‘I taste mushrooms, but I don’t see them, How…?’ I love this playful, hide-and-seek nature of modern cooking. These new idea powders also work well as a flavour boost for different dishes such as stirred into a risotto, as a steak seasoning,or even dare I suggest it, mushroom salt. 

Chinese 5-Spice (plus more) Popcorn
Popcorn is definitely a go-to snack these days... And not just any popcorn, this popcorn has the previously unexplored combination of Chinese 5-spice powder and ground porcini mushrooms. Sounds like a rescue remedy from chinese medicine? wait and see.The blog where I discovered this carried the following quote,  the context of which I did not understand
"A desire would arise and, concurrently, the satisfaction of that desire would also arise.  It was as if (a) I longed for a certain (heretofore untasted) taste until (b) said longing became nearly unbearable, at which time (c) I found a morsel of food with that exact taste already in my mouth, perfectly satisfying my longing." 
                               -from Escape from Spiderhead in Tenth of December by George Saunders

It wasn´t until I had actually made the popcorn and tasted it as part of  a Saturday evening TV dinner that it started to make sense to me......

1/2 cup kernels
2-3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon ground dried porcini mushrooms
1 teaspoon garlic powder
finely ground salt, to taste

In a small bowl, stir together the black pepper, Chinese 5-spice powder, nutritional yeast, ground mushrooms, garlic powder, and salt. Set aside.
Pour enough oil to cover the bottom of a large pot. Place over medium heat. Add three kernels of popcorn and cover pot with lid. Once those have popped, add the 1/2 cup of kernels. Shake the pot frequently. Once the popping has stopped, take off heat. Drizzle with the olive oil, and sprinkle the seasoning mix. Stir to ensure even coating of the popcorn. Adjust salt to taste.


Popular Posts