Hokto Kinoko’s Culinary Seminars at the San Diego County Fair – Part 3

The 2010 San Diego County Fair is in its final week of “Taste the Fun” theme that celebrates food and local venders from San Diego County. The main, theme-based attraction continues with the “Tour of Tastes,” an exhibition featuring cooking competitions and demos. Today, I had another opportunity to work with one of the chefs and speak on behalf of Hokto at the San Diego County Fair on June 29th, demonstrating the continued versatility and great flavor of Hokto mushrooms with the theme of vegan and vegetarian meals. Vegetarians may eat dairy and eggs (ovo-lacto), but vegans avoid all animal products. So mushrooms are a great compliment to a meatless dish in adding a savory flavor and mouthfeel.

Again we had a record breaking audience observe Chef David prepare three dishes made with all four varieties of Hokto mushrooms –King Trumpet, White Beech, Brown Beech and Maitake.

Before the chef began preparing the mushrooms, I took a poll of the audience to see who liked mushrooms and who had ever had Hokto mushrooms before. Most of the audience liked mushrooms (that’s WHY they were there) and only a handful of people had tried the Hokto varieties. Chef David prepared a simple dish of sautéing each variety separately in olive oil and adding a bit of salt and pepper and then a tray was passed around for all to sample. A show of hands demonstrated that is was unanimous—everyone liked the mushrooms, with the King Trumpet being a favorite. One women wanted to know what kind of sauce was used –there was no sauce—it was simply the act of cooking the mushrooms which intensified and developed the umami flavor. Boy was she surprised to hear that!

The second demo was a mushroom polenta with all four varieties of mushrooms, King Trumpet, White Beech, Brown Beech and Maitake blended with the corn base mush. While the Chef prepared the meals, I discussed the nutritional value the mushrooms had to offer and also answered some interesting questions from the audience—do mushrooms make D2 or D3? Which mushroom is highest in nutritional value? Answer D2 (ergocalciferol) and all the Hokto mushrooms contain significant amounts of B vitamins, selenium, fiber, and compounds that support immune function and may even lower risk for cancer (beta-glucans, grifolin, vitamin D,and L-ergothioneine).

The third demo consisted of a colorful blend of julienne cut carrots, celery, onions, garlic, tofu and of course, Hokto mushrooms. Again, all four mushroom varieties were used to blend together and enhance the vegetable flavors. Members of the audience gave another thumbs up, asking for seconds, which there were, and decidedly the stir-fry was a huge hit.

Hokto recipe booklets were distributed and many people also wanted to know where to purchase Hokto mushrooms at their local markets. The session ended with a round of applause and was a great success.

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 until July 5. We had a blast with acclaimed San Diego chefs preparing Hokto mushrooms for everyone to enjoy.

Stay tuned for more news from Hokto special events!