|Dusky Wax Cap Coconut Chili Soup / Mustavahakas Kokos Chili Keitto with Black Sesame Sourdough Bread|
New to me this year, Mustavahakas (Finnish) or Dusky Wax Cap Mushrooms, Hygrophorus Camarophyllus, is the black tie dresser of the mushroom world. It has an elegant, dark gray/brown cap, a clean natural white undercap with elegant, waxy, sturdy, curved, gills and a slender, strong gray stem. Once you've seen one, you will always know them, though it's easy to miss them at first in the autumn forest among fallen leaves and debris, since they sit close to the grown, the dark heads just above forest floor. They have a mild pleasant smell, reminiscent of honey, and the flavor is excellent. They are considered to be a three-star mushroom, right up there with porcini for flavor. I found mine growing in a mixed forest filled with fir, pine and birch, in the center of a mossy patch not too far from a patch of yellow foot chanterelles (suppilovahvero). They are a fall mushroom in Finland, Scandinavia and Russia, with a growth season from the end of August through October. In the US they are found in northern North America. If you know of them growing in other parts of the world, please let me know!
|Mustavahakas, Dusky Wax Cap, Hygrophorus Camarophyllus|
I didn't find many out on my last trek: just under 1/2 liter of good ones, but enough to fry up in the pan and create a soup. I left a portion of them behind in the woods since the worms had found them before I did, so slice them completely in half as you pick them so you know which to bring home and which to leave behind; the worms tend to get there early. If you are lucky enough to find a lot of them, they freeze well. Fry them in a dry pan over medium heat until they release their juice, and then store them in a labeled plastic bag or container.
So how to cook them? I'd read somewhere that they suit Asian recipes well, so I decided to make a nice soup for lunch.
I fried the mushrooms first and salted them lightly so I could taste them before adding them to the soup. The flavor reminded me a bit of the way oyster sauce smells, and the scent that came off as I cooked them was that of raw honey. This soup uses simple ingredients to create a warming soup with fiery chili undertones that is really satisfying. I give a range for the amount of chili as I found I made it a bit too fiery at first, and ended up removing some of the liquid before adding the coconut milk. I hoping to find more of this beauties on my next trip out - I am thinking they'd be great in a curry stir fry over steamed brown rice.
If you don't have Dusky Wax Caps anywhere near you, you could substitute store-bought Shitakes or Matsutakes for this recipe.
|Dusky Wax Cap Coconut Chili Soup - Mustavahakas Kokos Chili Keitto|
2 cups / 1/2 liter fresh waxy cap mushrooms
2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 + 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 carrots, sliced into thin circles
1 cup / 2.5 dl thinly sliced white cabbage
1 - 2 teaspoons red chili pepper, depending on how spicy you like it
3 cups / 750 ml water
1 tablespoon soy sauce, preferably Tamari
2 teaspoons of oyster sauce; optional, but adds a nice extra depth to this soup
1 tablespoon of chopped chives
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
1 cup / 250 ml coconut milk
1/2 cup / 3/4 dl of small egg noodles, pasta, or rice noodles (I used mini bow tie pasta)
In a heavy-bottomed, medium-sized pot, heat 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, then add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms release most of their liquid and are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Pour the mushrooms onto a plate and set aside; set the pot back on the stove.
To the pot, add 2 tablespoons of sesame oil and the onion. Saute the onion until it is slightly translucent and tender, 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, cabbage and pepper, stir well, and allow to cook for another five minutes. Add the water, soy sauce and oyster sauce, and allow the mixture to cook for 10 minutes. Add the chives, parsley and coconut milk, stir well, and bring back to a boil. Add the pasta/noodles and cook them in the pot per manufacturers instructions or until they are al dente. Taste and add salt & pepper if needed. Pour into bowls and serve.