I’ve been traveling this week, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to share one of my favorite recipes from the Herbivoracious cookbook. I saw some beautiful maitake mushrooms at Pike Place Market recently, so this should be a good time of year to seek them out and try this soup.
Maitakes, also known as hen-of-the-woods (not to be confused with chicken-of-the-woods, which is completely different!), are a wild mushroom well worth seeking out at farmers’ markets or gourmet grocers. Maitakes are rather expensive, and their dramatic ruffled appearance and rich flavor are unusual, so when I use them, I like to make them the focus of a dish.
If you have never had lapsang souchong tea, you are in for a treat. It is intensely smoky, unlike any other tea I’ve had. That smokiness makes it a perfect broth base to show off the earthiness of roasted maitakes.
You could cut the maitake up into bite-sized pieces, but this dish is more dramatic when the mushroom is served in larger pieces—which also keeps it from getting soggy. Give guests a knife so they can cut the maitake at the last moment.
- 1/2 cup finely diced bok choy stems
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 pound fresh maitake mushroom(s)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons lapsang souchong tea
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- Toasted sesame oil
- Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
- 2 teaspoons finely sliced scallion, white and light green parts only
- Preheat the oven to 450°F using convection, or 475°F without convection. Warm four shallow soup bowls.
- Place the bok choy in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon water and microwave on High for 1 minute. (Alternatively, you can steam the bok choy or blanch it in boiling water.) Reserve.
- Divide the mushroom into 4 portions (leaving the pieces as large as possible) and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with the vegetable oil, coating the mushroom as evenly as possible, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Roast until fragrant, starting to brown, and becoming tender, about 20 minutes.
- While the mushroom is roasting, place the lapsang souchong tea in a small, heatproof bowl and cover with the boiling water; allow to steep 5 minutes. Strain. Add the tamari. Taste and season with a bit of salt if needed. The broth should be smoky and mildly salty, with a distinct note of soy.
- When the mushrooms are ready, place one portion in each bowl. Place the bok choy dice around the maitake. Reheat the tea in the microwave and divide among the 4 bowls. Garnish each bowl with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil, a pinch of flaky sea salt, and the scallions. Serve piping hot.