you don’t say gesundheit when you hear mycorrhiza. instead mycorrhiza refers to the symbiotic association between a fungus and the roots of a plant. for mattake, the mushroom, the preferred tree might be a ponderosa or similar pine. it hides under leaves or in dirt between roots and is tough to find in the wild. it’s a cinch at a price, notably now this early fall, at the farmers market in portland.
cleaning the matsutake, scrape the outer skin along the stem, starting under the cap working your way down to the base. gently brush the top of the mushroom, just enough to clean off any dirt. i slice the mushrooms about a quarter inch thick and cook them in olive oil to a tender tan. they then go into a 400 oven, gently on a lush layered bed of fresh pine needles. they’re done when their fragrance fills your kitchen.
we had them cooked that way over dark strands of pure buckwheat soba, in a broth, part hatchomiso part pu-erh, the earthy tea in which i simmer my soba.