Mas Rajols Farm, 08511 Tavertet, Catalonia

MAITAKE

Maitake (Grifola frondosa) is another staple mushroom in Japanese cuisine. Its name could be translated as “dancing mushroom”. Sometimes it is said that its name comes from its superimposed layers that move with the wind as if they were dancing, but there is also a legend that those who found it in the forest began to dance with joy because it was a mushroom as scarce as valued for its culinary and healing properties. It is said that in feudal Japan it was worth its weight in silver.

This mushroom can also be found naturally in Montseny mountain range west of the coastal hills north of Barcelona, where the inhabitants of the villages of the region have appreciated it for a long time and have given it the name of Gírgola de Castanyer, because it often grows on fallen chestnut tree (Castany) trunks.

IN THE KITCHEN

Maitake is characterized by its consistent and soft texture, which allows it to be broken into pieces by hand. When cooked it is a succulent mushroom, with a woody and earthy flavor.

This mushroom is delicious combined with meat, smoked fish and seafood. It also works very well as an ingredient in sauces, broths or soups such as ramen and can also be sautéed with vegetables to which it gives a particular taste. Although it is a very versatile mushroom to combine with other foods, it is also very good cooked alone. It can be crumbled into sheets to sauté or fry with olive oil over high heat. The maitake flesh does not absorb fat, and instead the temperature of the hot oil brings out its flavor.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Preliminary studies suggest that Maitake:

Stimulates the immune system

Reduces blood pressure

Regulates blood glucose levels

Lowers cholesterol

Relieves chronic fatigue

Promotes beneficial bacteria and healthy gut flora