Nameko: 5 Reasons to Grow
This Amazing Mushroom
(plus gill netting Whitefish and a Fish & Nameko Tart recipe)
by Mary Ellen Kozak
The Nameko mushroom is weirdly beautiful. Once you get comfortable with knowing that it is edible (and delectable), you'll take special care to inoculate a few logs with it every year for a regular harvest. Nameko has several other attributes which may encourage you to grow it if you haven't tried it already.
Emerging mushrooms are protected in
a gelatinous sheath
2. Just a few logs will satisfy. Plug spawn makes inoculation easy and can be purchased in small quantities, perfect for planting just a few logs, which will produce just enough mushrooms for most miso soup lovers and adventurous cooks. Nameko logs are inoculated just like Shiitake. Inoculated Nameko logs like to lay flat directly on the ground, as they prefer high humidity. As a result, smaller-than-average diameter logs can be successfully incubated with less worry about them drying out, which is often the biggest concern for Shiitake growers using smaller diameter logs. Branches as thin as three inches in diameter can be used, and are often readily available from backyard tree prunings. Diameters any smaller, however, may lead to difficulty when drilling holes.
Early season Nameko fruiting on a
Black Cherry log laid under a Plum tree
3. Nameko grows on unusual wood, not best suited for Shiitake, so therefore is a welcome mushroom alternative. In fact, it is the only cultivated mushroom we have found so far that will produce on Jack Pine. Nameko grows well on Aspen, Box Elder, Cottonwood, Willow, Cherry, Buckeye, Ironwood, Sugar Maple and Sweet Gum. It also yields respectably on Alder, Ash, Basswood, Elm, Hackberry, and Mulberry. And there are likely more promising wood species yet untested.
4. Snow mushrooms? Nameko is considered a late fall fruiter, but has a wide harvest range from leaf fall to snow fall. Most mushroom mycelium slows as Thanksgiving approaches with the exception of some renegade cold weather Shiitake, Oyster and Blewit. Mushrooms will emerge at 40-60F but will continue to develop when days are both colder or warmer than that range. Occasionally Nameko will fruit in the spring. In any case, it's nice to to have one last basket of mushrooms just when you thought everything was done for the season.
|Late season Nameko|
often fruits while the snow flies
Nameko plus Whitefish
|Typical BWCA landscape, with fishermen scouting channels|
|Portaging gear to the next lake|
I was offered several methods for canning, pickling, and smoking Whitefish to "give away as gifts". Wow.
|Picking the fish from the net|
After the fish were picked from the nets (best done with a crochet hook) the fish were transported back to camp to be cleaned. Our friends had portable wood boards that were fastened to trees where they could process dozens of fish within an hour. Filleted fish were then rinsed and packed into plastic bags for transportation. Fish skeletons and entrails, by the bucketful, were spread for the eagles, ravens, grey jays and other wildlife to make quick work of - my job. :-)
|Checking the nets|
While we did not eat any Whitefish at our Thanksgiving table, we were still slightly amazed at witnessing this incredible resource of local food. Certainly the difficulty of processing the fish in a remote location without modern sportsman conveniences had something to do with controlling greed for such an abundant resource, but it was the respect for which most of the fisherpeople treated the harvest that governed it more. The generous sharing of their abundance with others was perhaps the most remarkable thing to me. I realized that there are people of all walks of life that respect and enjoy and utilize our public lands in a variety of ways.
|Fish and Nameko Tart|
1 oz grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese (use 2 oz if you love cheese)
½ c unbleached flour
1/8 tsp salt or healthy pinch
2T softened unsalted butter
2T solid vegetable shortening or lard
1 beaten egg
Makes one 9-inch round tart
Method: Toss the flour, salt and fats with your fingers, rubbing and incorporating as you toss, keeping the mixture airy until crumbly. Add about 1 TBSP water and lift, rub and mix until smooth. Cover the dough and rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Roll the dough out 2 inches past the diameter of your tart pan, trim the edges and slide it with your rolling pin over the pan. Get the dough settled, patting and crimping until you’ve got a nice pastry layer. Prick the bottom all over with a fork and brush the entire thing with the beaten egg. Pop in the oven and bake until golden, enjoying the toasted cheese smell. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a rack while preparing the filling.
1/2 lb baked, boned and flaked Whitefish (or any firm, mild fish). For a smoky flavored pie, you may substitute up to a 1/4 lb of boned smoked fish.
4-8 oz rinsed and lightly patted dry Nameko. Trim stems to about 1 inch and compost the trimmings.
1/2 c milk and 1 tsp sugar
1 bay leaf
Pinch of salt
1 c sour cream
1 TBSP rinsed capers
Pinch each of nutmeg and black pepper
2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
Chopped fresh dill, optional
Method: Lower oven temp to 325F. Heat the milk and sugar until just below a simmer and add the mushrooms and bay leaf. Place a lid on the pan and poach for 2-4 minutes. Remove bay leaf and strain the milk from the mushrooms, discarding any bits or organic matter not mushroom. Reserve both milk and mushrooms in separate bowls.
Add the sour cream to the milk.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolks, adding salt and pepper. Slowly add the milk and sour cream mixture, whisking all the while. Pour into the cooled crust.
Sprinkle on top the poached mushrooms, capers and optional dill over the unbaked custard.
Place the filled tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.