Although this seems like a lot of ingredients, this recipe utilizes two components that are then combined for the end product. The second set of ingredients is used to flavor the collards and uses the stems that would usually be discarded, which bothered me. When I first made this recipe, I was tossing the stems into a small teapot that “was there” to keep them out of the way – thus the genesis of this idea.
This recipe combines well with kasha or other whole grains such as wheat berries.
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms
1/2 inch piece of peeled ginger, grated finely and squeezed for juice
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and cracked
1/4 cup sake
1/8 cup mirin (sweet Japanese cooking wine)
1 tablespoon “white” or light soy sauce
2 tablespoon of neutral flavored oil (grapeseed or canola)
Reserved stems from shiitake mushrooms
1/2 inch piece of peeled ginger, crushed
1 small garlic clove, peeled and de-germed
4 drops “white” or light soy sauce
1 bunch of collard greens, stripped from stems
1 tablespoon neutral flavored oil
Remove and reserve the mushroom stems. Slice the mushrooms on the bias so you have wide, fairly thin, slices.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a 10-inch pan, preferably non-stick, and when hot, put in the garlic clove. Cook until the oil is fragrant and the garlic just starting to color.
Add the mushrooms. Immediately toss to coat the mushrooms with the oil.
Cook the mushrooms until they are all softened a bit. Drizzle in the sake, mirin, and soy sauce. Toss well. Add the ginger juice.
Reduce the heat to low and cover. Allow the mushrooms to gently cook. Check periodically to avoid burning.
Meanwhile, bring a quart of water to a boil in a 2-quart chefs pan, and add the kale. Bring the kale to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer, then cook covered for 20 minutes or so.
At the same time, bring 2 cups of water to a boil for the mushroom stem “tea”. Put the mushroom stems, ginger, garlic, and soy sauce into a teapot or pan, and when the water boils, pour it onto the stems and company. Let steep until needed.
Check the mushrooms. If they are not quite tender but the liquid is gone, just add a splash of water and stir them around. Repeat until tender. If they are done but it seems wet in the pan, remove the lid and cook to reduce the liquid.
When the collards are soft (about 20 minutes), pour out most of the liquid so only a tablespoon or two of liquid remains. Strain the mushroom stem “tea” into the pot and stir the collards around. Cook until the liquid is almost entirely gone.
Drizzle the last tablespoon of oil onto the greens and stir to coat.
Empty the collards and any remaining liquid into the mushroom pan and turn up the heat to warm through if needed. Stir the mixture to combine well, then serve.
YIELD: Serves 4