Like many of the foodies in the universe, I love watching food shows, listening to food podcasts, buying and getting cookbooks from the library….you get the gist.
A few nights ago, I started watching Episode 1 from Season 3 of Chef’s Table on Netflix. In this episode, Jeong Kwan, a Buddhist monk from South Korea, espouses the virtues of cooking as a soulful process and how vegan food made with the simplest of ingredients can transport you to a state of bliss. I don’t know if it was her energy, the beauty of the temple grounds, her artistic way of transcending simple ingredients or her penchant for storytelling that had me glued. But when she narrated how her father transformed from feeling sorry for her because she gave up eating meat into a content man after tasting her shiitake mushrooms cooked with sesame oil and soy sauce, I could not rush out fast enough to grab ingredients to create this in my kitchen.
While Jeong Kwan did not necessarily share a recipe, it was simple enough to try. I took the shiitake mushrooms and cut little indentations into the caps like she did. I proceeded to saute the mushrooms in sesame oil and soy sauce with just one modification, the addition of thinly sliced ginger.
The result was a melt in your mouth amalgamation of flavors, one that took minutes to create but whose taste made me want to savor every bite 🙂
2 four oz packets of shiitake mushrooms
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp dark sesame oil
One inch square of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
Salt – only if needed
Remove the stems from the mushrooms and cut two slits crosswise across the caps (see picture). Gently wash and dry the mushrooms. Heat the sesame oil and when it is warm, add the ginger and fry for a minute. Add the mushrooms and toss gently in the oil taking care that the mushrooms don’t break. Add the soy sauce and toss the mushrooms gently again, coating with the soy sauce and sesame oil. Add salt only if needed. Cook for two-three minutes and turn off the stove.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
If you’ve created a dish from an episode of Chef’s Table, we’d love to hear about your version!
PS. I’d like to give a shout out to chef Eric Ripert, a follower of Buddhist principles, for bringing us the talent and wisdom of Jeong Kwan.