Hokto Kinoko’s Culinary Seminars at the San Diego County Fair – Part 1

The 2010 San Diego County Fair opened on Friday, June 11, with a “Taste the Fun” theme that celebrates food. The main, theme-based attraction is “Tour of Tastes,” an exhibition featuring cooking competitions and demos. I had the wonderful opportunity to speak on behalf of Hokto at the San Diego County Fair on June 15th, demonstrating the versatility and flavor of Hokto mushrooms. We had a great audience, with more than 150 people in attendance to observe Chef Robert Reid prepare three dishes made with all four varieties of Hokto mushrooms –King Trumpet, White Beech, Brown Beech and Maitake.

The first dish was roast quail stuffed with Maitake mushrooms sautéed in olive oil. While the chef prepared the dish, I had an opportunity to share some facts about Hokto mushrooms and highlight some of the special qualities these locally grown Japanese mushrooms have to offer, such as the nutritional value, health benefits and savory flavor. The prepared dish was passed around so the audience could appreciate a true work of culinary art.

As the mushrooms simmered in the pan for the second dish, mushroom soup, a few people wanted to know about eating mushrooms raw versus cooked. Although mushrooms can be eaten raw, high heat intensifies and brings out the unique flavor of each of the mushrooms, so cooking those beauties is recommended. The audience was most interested in the specialized bottle growing technique and the fact that the mushrooms are grown without using soil—what a concept! Many people were pleased to know, because the mushrooms are grown without dirt, that no cleaning, peeling or wiping is necessary. Hokto mushrooms are ready right out of the bag – minimizing the prep time. Nice!

We also talked about whether or not mushrooms are an acquired taste, but a father of an 8- year-old boy assured us that his son currently likes mushrooms – no acquired taste needed thank you! So young and old (or shall I say elderly) enjoyed viewing the beautiful quail and mushroom dish, tasting the delicately seasoned cream of mushrooms soup – prepared with wine- and appreciating each mushroom’s true flavor via a simple dish of all four varieties of Hokto mushrooms, chopped, seasoned and sautéed in olive oil with a splash of wine.

If you have an opportunity to visit the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar, CA this year, please visit the Activity Center (directly inside the main gate), where a number of culinary competitions are underway for the next two weeks. We’ll be there again on Tuesday, June 22nd and Tuesday, June 29th, with acclaimed chefs preparing Hokto mushrooms for everyone to enjoy.

Stay tuned for more news from the San Diego County Fair!