Mushroom foraging is not for beginners. Pluck the wrong cap and you could be taking your life into your hands. No matter how innocuous, one incorrect identification could be downright deadly. Great risks yield little payoff, especially when you consider the fact that shiitake, arguably the greatest prize for sheer umami content, will never cross your path.
Photo courtesy of Sugimoto
Shiitake are native to Southeast Asia where they do grow wild, but these days are largely recognized as a cultivated mushroom. Although there are no definitive written records, there’s a good chance shiitake had been growing naturally in Takachiho-go, at the foot of Mt. Sobo over 10,000 years ago, when broadleaf forests spread across Japan.
Photo courtesy of Sugimoto
Today, Sugimoto shiitake mushrooms grow on sweet sap oak logs in the forest. Completely exposed to the elements, the growers use a 1,000-year-old Japanese approach to nurturing sustainable tree logs, fostering an environment as close to those original conditions know to produce the best tasting and textured Shiitake.
Larger agribusinesses cannot grow the same quality shiitake. Families living deep in the mountains grow Sugimoto shiitake in harmony with nature, without the dangers associated with traditional foraging. In each forest micro-climate, it is essential to fine-tune the variable factors of nature, exposure to the rain, wind, and the sunlight through the trees, with the work and working hours changing according to the weather. These are hard-earned skills beyond the grasp of business people, thinking only of time cards and profits. Truly a labor of love, over 600 independent growers can elevate the act of foraging to an art form.
In the spirit of shepherd’s pie, forager’s pie is what I’d like to think the skillful shiitake grower might enjoy with their harvests. Earthy, bright herbs like thyme and rosemary sing in concert to further accentuate those aromatic woodsy base notes. Instead of ground beef or lamb, chopped shiitake mushrooms add an incredibly meaty bite and umami flavor, possibly even surpassing the original in sheer depth of flavor. Gently browned tempeh boosts the protein to incredible heights, without spiking the fat content or adding any cholesterol, of course.
Crowned with rich, buttery mashed potatoes, everything comes together quickly in a single skillet, making advanced preparation, transportation, and even cleanup a breeze. This one-pan meal is casual and comforting enough for an easy weeknight dinner, yet made with such luxurious flavors that it would a suitable centerpiece for a holiday feast.
For a satisfying meatless entree that’s wildly delicious, you don’t need to go scrounging around for the key ingredient. Sugimoto shiitake mushrooms are now available on Kroger.com, Amazon.com, Walmart.com, and their own website. Now that’s my kind of fool-proof foraging.
In the spirit of shepherd's pie, this Forager's Pie replaces ground beef with umami-rich shiitake mushrooms and tempeh. Incredibly meaty and satisfying, this is the next level of plant-based comfort food.
Meatless Mushroom Filling:
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Medium Yellow Onion, Diced
- 1 1/2 Ounces Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, Soaked Overnight
- 8 Ounces Cremini Mushrooms, Roughly Chopped
- 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 2 (8-Ounce) Packages Tempeh, Crumbled or Roughly Chopped
- 3 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
- 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon Dried Marjoram or Oregano
- 1 3/4 Cups Mushroom Stock
- 1/4 Cup Dry Red Wine
- 2 Tablespoons Vegan Worcestershire Sauce or Soy Sauce
- 1 Cup Frozen Green Peas
- 1 Pound (About 3 Medium) Russet Potatoes, Peeled and Diced
- 1/4 Cup Plain, Unsweetened Non-Dairy Milk
- 2 Tablespoons Vegan Butter or Coconut Oil
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Parsley
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Begin by placing a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and onion, sauteing until golden brown; about 4 - 5 minutes. Meanwhile, thoroughly drain the soaked shiitake mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Finely dice the mushrooms and stems before adding them to the skillet, along with the cremini mushrooms and garlic.
- Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened and become aromatic; about 5 minutes. Add the tempeh and stir to incorporate. Saute for 5 - 8 minutes, until lightly browned. Sprinkle the flour into the skillet, followed by the thyme, rosemary, pepper, and salt. Cook for just 1 minute before gently pouring in the mushroom stock, red wine, and Worcestershire. Bring to a boil and cook for 4 minutes or until thickened. Stir in peas and remove the skillet from the heat.
- To prepare the mashed potatoes, place the potatoes in a large saucepan and add water to cover. Set over medium heat on the stove and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, until the pieces are fork-tender; 20 - 25 minutes. Thoroughly drain. Add the non-dairy milk, vegan butter, and salt, and mash thoroughly until smooth, light, and fluffy.
- Spread the mashed potatoes over the mushroom mixture, using a spoon or fork to give them texture on top. Alternately, you could use a piping bag fitted with a large star tip to make neat patterns all over. Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbling around the edges. Turn on broiler without removing the pan from the oven, and cook for 3 - 4 minutes longer, or until lightly browned. Top with parsley and serve hot.
- To make this recipe gluten-free replace the all-purpose flour with an equal measure of chickpea flour.
- If you'd rather not cook with alcohol, replace the red wine with additional mushroom stock or water.
- For a cheesy finish, top the mashed potatoes with 1 cup of shredded vegan cheese just before broiling.
- To make individual, single serving pies, divide the filling and topping evenly between six 8-ounce ramekins and bake for 15 - 20 minutes.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 217Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 438mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gProtein: 7g
All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.
7 thoughts on “The Good Forager”
Oh wow, such a wonderful post and I’ve got to try these as someone who is very picky about mushrooms. Thanks!
A fascinating post, Hannah. We love shepherd’s pie and this variation sounds delicious as well.
You are right, that is definitely the way I like to forage, right in my own market. Your forager’s pie sounds great.
[…] The Good Forager — BitterSweet […]
I woul definitely want to experience foraging, with an expert beside me. I love mushrooms and would love to pick my own wild ones
Thanks Hannah I love this post. Its Sun (Solful Kitchen) IG group
[…] Forager’s Pie: In the spirit of shepherd’s pie, this Forager’s Pie replaces ground beef with umami-rich shiitake mushrooms and tempeh. Incredibly meaty and satisfying, this is the next level of plant-based comfort food. […]