Eringi (King Oyster Mushroom/Saesongi) & Teriyaki Sauce

eringiterEringi エリンギ (king trumpet, king oyster or saesongi) is my favourite Asian mushroom. I love its meaty texture, its delicate flavours and its incredible versatility. It is good in Thai and Indian curries, in Japanese chawan mushi (savoury egg custard) and okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake), but it is equally delicious simply grilled and served with teriyaki sauce. This easy method showcases perfectly all the eringi’s qualities and I strongly advise it all those who plan to cook this mushroom for the first time.

Together with the more famous oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) eringi belongs to the Pleurotus genus, but there is no ressemblance between them ; actually king oyster mushroom is similar to a cute cep/penny bun/porcini but with a chubby stem and tiny cap. In the wild this mushroom grows together with the roots of Eryngium plants, hence the Latin name, but it is widely cultivated (even in Switzerland!). Even though it grows in the Middle East, Northern Africa and even Southern Europe, it is particularly appreciated in Asian countries, especially in China, Korea and Japan. Many people might hesitate before buying eringi for the first time: it doesn’t have any smell or taste when raw and it often costs more than the well-known “standard” oyster mushroom. However, once stir-fried or grilled, it develops a subtle, inimitable aroma and the famous “umami” (うま味) or 5th primary taste. Apart from the elegant and sophisticated flavour I also adore this mushroom for its meaty texture, which is always surprises my first-time eringi tasting guests.

I haven’t made any raw mushroom photographs, but if you want to see how it looks and how it grows, this program presents a Korean king oyster farm (I like the funny way they grow in pots) and shows the passion the Koreans have for this mushroom.

Here are some more eringi cooking ideas:

Eringi and Buckwheat Groats

Eringi and Buckwheat Groats

Chawan Mushi with Grilled Enringi

Chawan Mushi with Grilled Enringi

Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) with Eringi and Bacon

Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) with Eringi and Bacon

TIP: I don’t like very sweet teriyaki sauce, so mine is barely sweet (I sometimes use only sake and soy sauce, skipping even mirin). If you like a sweeter sauce, add more mirin and some sugar.

Preparation: 15 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4):

400g eringi mushrooms

neutral tasting oil

(ground pepper)

Teriyaki sauce:

2 tablespoons mirin (sweet cooking sake)

6 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (or 2 if using normal soy sauce)

6 tablespoons sake

Bring mirin and sake to boil, add the soy sauce. Heat until it thickens a bit, put aside, keeping it warm.

Clean the mushrooms if they are a bit dirty and cut them into slices (lengthwise or diagonally).

You can then cut them into bite-sized pieces like I did.

Heat some oil in a non-stick pan or brush hot grill with oil.

Grill the eringi or stir-fry until they are slightly browned (about 2 minutes on each side).

Put them on a warmed plate.

If you use a grill, bring the teriyaki to boil once more, let it thicken a bit and pour over the mushrooms.

If you use a non-stick pan, pour the teriyaki on it (don’t wash the pan after having take out the mushrooms) and let it caramelise for about 1 minute.

Pour the teriyaki over the mushrooms.

Habanero Paste


Sweet and hot pepper season will soon be over (at least in this part of the world), so make sure you don’t miss last moments to enjoy it and maybe preserve it. My organic farmers’ market stall sells chilli regularly, but this year their harvest has been particularly rich. They have increased the number of varieties and thus I came back home with half a kilo of beautiful red and orange habaneros. If you are not a big chilli fan, you might not know, but habaneros are incredibly hot (much more than for example long red cayenne peppers). They have however an extremely seductive, enticing aroma that makes you want devour them, no matter how much your mouth is on fire afterwards… This oily habanero paste is one of the easiest ways to preserve this fantastic chilli variety and its splash guarantees an immediate upgrade and awakening kick to any omelet, boiled egg, toast, pizza, grilled meat… or really any dish. Only for fiery food lovers!

I have based this recipe on the Italian preserve, often served here in pizzerias, called “Peperoncini sott’olio”.

By the way, I’m searching for other ways to use my habaneros (and the ones I’ll probably buy tomorrow…), so if anyone has a recipe, I’ll be extremely grateful!

TIPS: Wear gloves!!!! Do not touch the peppers (even whole) without gloves and make sure you wash well the cutting board, the knife and anything that they have been in touch with. I did wear gloves, but have inadvertently rubbed my eyes after touching the knife… I cried for half an hour.

Make sure you remove the seeds. Even without the seeds habaneros are extremely fiery (and it’s a big chilli geek talking…).

If you cannot stand the heat of habaneros, you can try mixing them with milder chillies or even with sweet peppers.

This is a short-term preserving method, which moreover uses fresh produce and has a very low acidity, so keep it in the fridge (you can probably freeze it too!).

Vinegar is here not only to add some acidity, always good for preservation, but also to improve the taste. Before adding the vinegar I found this somewhat bland.

If you don’t like/have peanut oil, use any oil you prefer. Given the hotness of habaneros, it’s a pity to use olive oil (I have made a tiny batch to test and it ended up as I had suspected: confronted with the heat and strong aroma of habaneros, olive oil’s delicate flavours practically disappear…).

Preparation: about 30 – 40 minutes

Ingredients (yields 1 x 200 ml jar (not full)):

about 15 habaneros (or a mixture of milder chillies and/or sweet peppers, but keep at least 20% of habaneros)

2 medium garlic cloves

1 heaped teaspoon salt

150 ml peanut oil (or more)

1 tablespoon vinegar (I have used red wine vinegar)

Put on the gloves.

Wash the chilli peppers.

Discard the stems and the seeds.

Chop roughly the peeled garlic clove.

Mix both in a food processor (don’t make a pulp though, they should be just very finely chopped) or chop with a knife (wearing gloves!).

Warm an empty frying pan.

Heat the chopped chillies and garlic at very low temperature, constantly stirring, so that they dry a bit and release some of their juices (but don’t dry them too much; they shouldn’t change the colour).

When they start sticking to the pan (after about 5-10 minutes), pour the oil.

Fry the chillies at very low temperature for about 10 minutes, constantly stirring (add more oil if you see that it’s been quickly absorbed).

Put aside and when it cools down, add the vinegar and salt.

(Add more salt if needed or more vinegar if it’s too salty).

Put into a jar, close it and keep in the fridge.

Chillies can be eaten at once, but they improve with time, so try to wait 24 hours before serving.


Aubergine and Chicken Salad (焼きなすの柚子こしょうあえ)

aub_salad1I grew up barely knowing the taste of aubergine. Later I started to associate it with fried, extremely oily, mushy stuff I disliked. When I discovered moussaka I realised the aubergine can actually be a delicious and precious ingredient, but it’s the Japanese cuisine that has awakened my love for this beautiful vegetable. I was – and still am – amazed at the number of aubergine recipes and different techniques every Japanese cookery source offers. It is fried, grilled, simmered, pickled and even dried… I still keep on stumbling upon unexpected Japanese ways to serve it, such as this super light salad, perfect for last warm weeks of this year.

I have found this recipe on Youtube, while practicing my culinary Japanese comprehension. It is an episode of a very famous tv program called 3-Minute Cooking, which I like a lot. Obviously, it is prepared with the smaller, Japanese aubergine variety which also has a thinner skin, but I have successfully replaced it with Western variety. This salad is very light, but filling at the same time and the zesty kick from yuzu koshou pairs perfectly with the delicate aubergine flavours. (As usually, I have slightly changed the process and the ingredients’ ratio, so if you speak Japanese, check the original recipe, the second one in this video.)

TIPS: Yuzu koshou (one of the ingredients) is a Japanese citrus called “yuzu” and chilli paste. It’s available in Japanese groceries but if you don’t have it, don’t panic: you can make a Western substitution with lime zest, which I called Raimu koshou (check my recipe here). Moreover, in this recipe I think you can replace it with some grated lime zest mixed with green chilli.

The best smoky taste is obtained when the aubergine is roasted over flame, but you can do it on any grill or, if you don’t have one (like me), grill it under the oven broiler, turning once as soon as it’s scorched at the top.

Preparation: about 15 minutes + the time necessary for the aubergine’s cooling

Ingredients (serves two as a big starter or a small dish):

2 small Western aubergines (or two normal Asian ones)

1 chicken breast, steamed, baked, fried or grilled (you can use leftover roast chicken meat), shredded with hands


3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon yuzu koshou or lime koshou or see the TIPS above 

1 tablespoon oil (I have used toasted sesame oil, but you can use any oil you like)

1 teaspoon honey, syrup or sugar

(lime zest)

Make a round shallow incision under the stems of each aubergine (it’s a magical trick that will make peeling much easier, so make sure you don’t cut the stems off while cutting the skin) and roast it over the flame, over the grill or under an oven broiler until it’s scorched.

Put into a closed/lidded container or plastic bag (I don’t think plastic bags are a very healthy option because they might even melt under the aubergine’s heat…).

When the aubergine cools down, peel the skin and cut the flesh into big chunks.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a big bowl (make sure the sugar is dissolved, if using it).

Add the aubergine chunks and the chicken pieces and stir well. Adjust the flavours and serve. (I have served it with some grated lime zest and found it a great sesaoning).

Roasted Green Chilli Spread with Greek Yogurt and Walnuts

chillispreadAfter Filo Rolls with Chilli and Feta it seems strange to write once more about chilli as the protagonist, but I really couldn’t resist sharing it while I’m still in the middle of chilli roasting frenzy. This Europeanised version of MJ’s Green Chile Pecan Cheese Spread, containing Greek yogurt and walnuts instead of cream cheese and pecans, is a fantastic treat for a fiery food lover and the quickest thing one can do with roasted chilli at the same time.

Actually this spread was the first thing I did with my very first batch of roasted chilli (before the previously posted Filo Rolls). The choice of Mj’s Kitchen as the source of inspiration for this first roasted chilli dish was obvious, since, as a highly experienced specialist of chilli roasting and cooking, MJ has a huge choice of related luscious looking recipes. Thanks to MJ’s encouragement I discovered how this simple process creates an utterly delicious product, incredibly easy to experiment with and will always be grateful for that. I have not only replaced some products, but I have also changed the ingredients’ ratio, so check MJ’s original Chile Spread Recipe.

If you have never roasted chilli peppers, check MJ’s tips and detailed instructions, many more roasted chilli dishes and myriads of other delightful New Mexican – and not only – treats.

TIPS: Make sure you use chilled chilli peppers and Greek yogurt straight from the fridge (though the best is to refrigerate the paste for several hours in the fridge because the flavours improve with time).

Try to add some grilled bacon bits next tim, as MJ recommends (I certainly will!).

Preparation: 5-10 minutes


1 cup (250 ml) chopped roasted (and skinned) medium hot green chilli, chilled

125 g (about 4 oz) very cold Greek yogurt or any other rich, thick natural yogurt

2-3 tablespoons chopped walnuts

juice from 1/2 medium lime


1 teaspoon crushed dried oregano

Combine everything, taste to check the seasoning, refrigerate for several hours (or use very cold ingredients, straight from the fridge).

Filo Rolls with Roasted Green Chilli Pepper and Feta

filorollschilliThanks to my dear blogging friend MJ and one of her numerous extremely tempting posts praising green chilli (or rather “chile” as they say in New Mexico), I finally embarked on the roasting adventure too. The process is quick, easy (even without a proper grill) and the ways of using roasted peppers seem countless. After the utterly delicious Chile Spread (see the recipe at MJ’s Kitchen), I decided to create something on my own and experiment with filo pastry rolls. Greek cuisine is not famous for its fiery dishes, nonetheless boldly flavoured feta cheese proved excellent company for roasted chilli! The mixture of the two ingredients is so satisfying, dried oregano was the only seasoning to make this chilli lovers’ treat perfect.

With their three-ingredient filling this filo pastry rolls are ridiculously easy to prepare, but most of you have probably never roasted chilli peppers, so I’ll share some of my impressions of the first batches. As I have mentioned above, roasting chilli is really quite effortless, even if one doesn’t have a grill, the oven broiler being a sufficient tool. As for the peeling, it is much quicker than expected and since, as MJ confirms, roasted chilli freezes very well, it’s a good idea to work with big batches and save some of the summer flavours for cold winter months.

The only problem (if you don’t live in New Mexico or other fiery food-loving regions) might be to find a medium hot chilli variety (even as a big fiery food fan I wouldn’t advise bird’s-eye-chillie or similar super hot varieties here). The only medium hot chilli I can buy here is aci sivri, a highly aromatic Turkish long green variety and it roasts and peels perfectly, so I guess any medium hot chilli will do.

For the detailed instructions and very useful chilli roasting tips, check MJ’s fascinating blog. I bet you will be tempted to try, just like me, lots of her inspiring recipes, most often influenced by New Mexican culinary heritage.

Some of you might have noticed I am a big filo/phyllo pastry fan and try to experiment with it as often as I can. Here are some ideas, in case you wonder what to do with the rest of the package:

Filo Rolls with Black Pudding

Filo Rolls with Black Pudding

Feather-Light Filo Tart with Plums

Feather-Light Filo Tart with Plums

Filo Rolls with Chanterelle and Goat Cheese

Filo Rolls with Chanterelle and Goat Cheese

Filo Rolls with Asparagus, Chorizo and Parmesan

Filo Rolls with Asparagus, Chorizo and Parmesan

Filo Rolls with Feta and Leek

Filo Rolls with Feta and Leek

Filo Triangles with Curried Beef

Filo Triangles with Curried Beef

Spanakopita (Greek Feta and Spinach Pie)

Spanakopita (Greek Feta and Spinach Pie)

Mock Spanakopita Rolls with Wild Garlic

Mock Spanakopita Rolls with Wild Garlic

Preparation: about 1 hour

Ingredients (makes 6 filo rolls):

6 sheets of filo/phyllo pastry

2 cups (about 500 ml) roughly chopped roasted, peeled chilli peppers

150 g feta cheese

1 tablespoon cracked wheat; this is the TIP I learnt from Katerina (Culinary Flavors), the specialist of Greek cuisine; this tiny amount of cracked wheat absorbs the excessive humidity, but doesn’t change the taste or texture; you can use for example semolina instead

1 tablespoon dried oregano

(1 tablespoon oil)

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Crumble the feta cheese in a bowl.

Add the chopped chilli and the oregano.

Mix delicately the filling, divide into six equal parts and fill the rolls (one sheet per roll; see the instructions here).

Place the rolls on a baking tray/sheet or a baking dish.

Brush with oil (this is not obligatory) and bake until slightly golden.