Bento Mushrooms

For Outings or the Theater
Japanese Box Lunch Ingredient

Bento Mushrooms - Shiitake mushrooms prepared for bento

Bento Mushrooms

Japanese Bento meals began as a convenient way to serve meals eaten on the run in the field or elsewhere.  They were intended to be eaten any time between breakfast and dinner.  Later, they became popular as a snack or meal eaten during an intermission at the theater.

And in the modern day, Bento is a whole department of Japanese cooking and a vehicle for packing school lunches or meals for office workers. Bento Mushrooms are a classic in New Year’s cuisine or Osechi Ryoori.

These Mushrooms, originally intended for inclusion in Bento lunches, will also work by themselves if you are making something to go with drinks. They always disappear quickly. So if you’re making them as an hors d[oeuvre to go with drinks, better double the quantities shown here.

Shiitake Mushrooms  椎茸  themselves are low in calories and provide significant amounts of potassium and several minerals, as well as certain of the B Vitamins.

Key flavor notes here are the Soy Sauce, Sake and Mirin, which do add salt and sugar, for those who are concerned about these components. The alcohol evaporates in the cooking.

Bento Mushrooms

Japanese

Ingredients:

12 dried Shiitake Mushrooms  椎茸
½ cup Dashi Stock
2 tablespoons Sugar
4 tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon  Mirin sweet cooking sake

Takara Mirin Sweet Cooking Sake

Mirin

1 tablespoon Sake

Method:

First soak the dried Shiitake Mushrooms in water for about 15 minutes to soften them.  Then remove the stems and boil the Mushroom caps in the Dashi Stock for 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the Sugar,stir, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Soy Sauce

Soy Sauce

Then add the Soy Sauce and simmer for another 10 minutes, then combi9ne the Sake and Mirin and add to the mushrooms.  Simmer this gently until the pan juices are reduced to Ma thick, syrupy consistency.  The Mushrooms should be nicely glazed and glistening on top.  They will be tender, and the Soy-Sugar-Wine mixture combine to enhance the natural flavor of the Mushrooms.

For Further Information:

Fumiko Matsumoto,    松元, 文子  , Tadashii shokuseikatsu no tameno shokuhin seibunhyo     正しい食生活のための食品成分表 (Tokyo: Shibata Shoten, 1991) — for nutritional analysis of Shiitake Mushrooms.
Wikipedia, “Shiitake,” article.

Bento Mushrooms

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Lacuer Bento Box

Lacquer Bento Box

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