If you follow my personal social media channels, you may have come across my toe fracture incident in early September. It was the first time I had broken a bone in my life and with me not exactly being a young person, I was anxious about supporting my healing the right way. Upon research, I discovered that one of the nutrients to aid in bone healing was Vitamin D.
I also discovered that the ONLY natural, plant-based dietary source of vitamin D in existence… is MUSHROOMS.
I became very liberal with my mushroom intake to assist in my bone healing. (Not a problem at all for me since I LOVE mushrooms.) I just got back from my follow-up visit to the doctor a few weeks ago and he was happy to see new bone growing back in my toe. Progress was right on track. Yay!
I’m always up for diversifying the mushrooms I eat and Maitake has been on my rotation list from time to time.
This unique mushroom of Japanese origin is also known as the ‘dancing mushroom’, because of how people, Samurai included, would dance for joy upon finding it in the forest! And it’s no wonder. Aside from Vitamin D, this once-rare fungi is a superfood with powerful antioxidant properties, is high in dietary fibre, low in cholesterol and fat-free. It also helps to regulate blood sugar levels, making it diabetic-friendly.
So when the world’s leading producer of premium maitake, Yukiguni Maitake, approached me to come up with a recipe, I was raring to go!
A true example of how a melting pot of cultures can influence one dish, Malaysian butter sauce amalgamates the ingredients and cooking styles of Indian, Chinese, Malay and Western. The incorporation of maitake adds Japan to that list!
There are two types of Malaysian butter dishes: dry, featuring egg floss, and wet, featuring a creamy sauce made of butter and canned evaporated milk. It is often served as a prawn or chicken dish. But with the sauce being the star of the show, it honestly doesn’t really matter what meat you use… or in this case, meat alternative.
This ingredient list can be split into two parts. The first one is for marinating, batter-coating and frying the mushrooms.
The other part is for making the sauce. For my version, I replace butter with vegan butter, and evaporated milk with raw cashews that have been soaked then blended.
Marinating is an important step in infusing the mushrooms with extra flavour. If you are pressed for time, you can marinate your mushrooms the day before and keep it in the fridge until it’s time to coat and fry.
What’s it like cooking with maitake? Unlike many other mushrooms, maitake still holds most of its shape and crunchy texture even after cooking. Its neutral umami taste makes it a very versatile mushroom to use in all sorts of recipes and cooking styles. Aside from this recipe, I’ve used it in roasts, soups and stir-fries. A great thing about Yukiguni Maitake is that it is grown without pesticides and other chemicals, and can be used straight out of the pack without washing.
One tip with the frying: do not let the cornstarch coating sit for too long on the mushrooms. The marinade can quickly moisten the cornstarch, making the batter sticky instead of crispy when you fry it. Once you powder up your mushrooms, send them straight to the pan.
You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to veganise butter sauce, and with minimal ingredients. Be watchful over the cashew milk once you start cooking it, as it thickens quickly from the heat. If it becomes too thick to pour, simply stir in drinking water in small amounts until you get a consistency that sits somewhere between honey and yoghurt.
The final result can be described in three words: A. MAY. ZING.
Mushooms that are crispy on the outside, springy on the inside and a slight hint of curry. Velvety rich sauce that is mildly sweet, salty and comes with a kick of chili. Aromatic curry leaves that lends a citrusy counterbalance. I’m placing bets that your first time cooking this dish won’t be your last.
Yukiguni Maitake can be found at all AEON supermarkets and is priced at RM5.90 for a packet weighing 80 grams. For more recipe ideas and additional details on the product, visit Yukiguni Maitake’s website.
FRIED MAITAKE WITH MALAYSIAN BUTTER SAUCE
A recent addition to the Malaysian food catalogue, butter sauce boasts multi-cultural influences that this country is renowned for. The sauce is commonly served over prawns or chicken. This plant-based version takes advantage of the fibrous, crunchy flesh and natural umami flavour of Yukiguni Maitake.
- 200g Yukiguni Maitake mushrooms, pulled into pieces
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1/2 tsp psyllium husk
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- BATTER COATING:
- 1/2 cup corn starch
- 1/2 cup oil
- BUTTER SAUCE:
- 1/3 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight in water
- 2/3 cup drinking water
- 1 tbsp vegan butter
- 2 stalks curry leaves
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
- A dash of pepper
- 2 - 3 bird’s eye chilis (chili padi), chopped finely (optional)
- Step 1 Pour cooking oil into a frying pan and and put the heat on high. The oil needs to be extremely hot. Ideally, there should be 1.5 – 2cm of oil in the pan. If your pan is too large or shallow to create a layer this thick, use more oil.
- Step 2 In a large shallow bowl, stir together all marinade ingredients and allow to sit for 2 minutes to allow the psyllium husk to thicken the liquid slightly.
- Step 3 Put in maitake mushrooms and massage in the marinade. Allow mushrooms to sit for 30 minutes.
- Step 4 While you are waiting, blend soaked cashews in a blender with the following butter sauce ingredients: drinking water, salt and brown sugar. Set aside.
- Step 5 Take one stalk of curry leaves and strip the leaves off. Fry in the hot oil for just a few seconds. They will turn slightly translucent. Remove leaves from the pan before they get over-cooked and start to turn brown. This happens very quickly, so be ready to act quick! Set fried leaves aside.
- Step 6 Place cornstarch for batter in a bowl. Piece by piece, evenly coat marinated mushrooms in cornstarch, then fry immediately in the hot oil. (Letting the cornstarch sit for too long on the marinated mushrooms will make the cornstarch soggy, making the batter sticky instead of crispy.)
- Step 7 Allow the mushrooms to fry for a very short while, about 30 seconds each side, until they turn a light golden brown. Again, act fast! Remove from pan and place mushroom pieces on a plate lined with kitchen paper towels to drain oil. Set aside.
- Step 8 Remove leaves from last stalk of curry leaves. In a fresh new pan, melt the butter on high heat.
- Step 9 When half of the butter has melted, add the leaves, curry powder and chili, and fry together for a minute. Omit chili if preferred.
- Step 10 Turn off the heat, pour in the blended cashew sauce and add pepper. Stir ingredients together for 1-2 minutes, until a slightly thick but pour-able consistency is attained. If it becomes too thick, remove pan from the stove-top and add water in small amounts to thin it out.
- Step 11 Pour sauce over fried mushrooms and top with fried curry leaves.
- Step 12 Serve immediately with steamed rice.