Locally grown and readily available year-round, we often take this all-season vegetable for granted.
According to Mushrooms Canada (mushrooms.ca), the total mushroom production in Canada is a staggering 105 million kg with Ontario producing about 57 per cent, B.C. 27 per cent, the Prairies 12 per cent and eastern Canada 4 per cent. Of that, about 25 per cent are exported to the US. White and brown (Crimini and Portabella) make up 90 per cent of the mushroom crop in Canada, the remaining 10 per cent are specialty mushrooms such as shiitake, oyster, King oyster and enoki.
Mushrooms vary in shape, size, texture and flavour and are much more than a pizza topping. They are low in fat and sodium and contain many important nutrients.
Asian Chicken Noodle Soup
This colourful and oh-so-healthy recipe, from Foodland Ontario, features Shitake mushrooms. Serve it when feeling a little under the weather or need an immune-enhancing boost. Provide garnishes of green onions, coriander leaves and kick-it-up chili garlic sauce to put in the bottom of deep soup bowls before ladling in soup. Serve with both a spoon and fork (or chopsticks if you’re dexterous). Makes about 10 cups/2.5 L), 4 servings.
• 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, fat removed and thinly sliced
• 1 onion, diced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tbsp (15 ml) minced fresh ginger
• 1 red pepper, cut into fine matchstick pieces
• 2 carrots, cut into fine matchstick pieces
• 2 cups (500 ml) thinly sliced Shitake or crimini mushrooms (remove stems from Shitakes)
• 3 oz (90 g) spaghetti, broken into 4ths (about 1 cup/250 ml) or other thin noodle
• 8 cups (2 l) chicken broth, preferably sodium reduced
• 2 tbsp (30 ml) soy sauce
• 6 green onions, thinly sliced on diagonal
• Fresh coriander leaves, about ½ cup (125 ml)
• Asian chili garlic sauce, about ? cup (75 ml)
In a large saucepan, combine chicken, onion, garlic, ginger, pepper, carrots, mushrooms, noodles and chicken broth. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until chicken, vegetables and noodles are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove any foam that forms on sides of pan during cooking with a rubber spatula. Remove soup from heat and stir in soy sauce. Place green onions, coriander leaves and chili garlic sauce in separate bowls. Let everyone put their choice of garnishes in their soup bowl. Ladle soup into bowls, adding more garnishes as desired.
• Choose firm mushrooms that are uniform in colour and free of blemishes. They should be moist and springy with no damp or wet spots. All varieties bruise easily, so handle with care.
• If buying packaged mushrooms, leave in the package as is, once opened, place in a paper bag.
• Just before using, wipe mushrooms with a lightly dampened paper towel, brush or lightly rinse, and use immediately.
• “Take” is Japanese for mushroom and “shii,” a tree it likes to use as a host. Remove tough stems before cooking.
– Barb Holland is a professional home economist and food writer who believes in shopping locally and in season.
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