Technically nori refers only to seaweed. However, I realized that once a technique is mastered – or at leastlearnt; I’m a long way from mastery! – Why not play with it? Why not use it in unexpected but worthwhile ways? To that end I wondered what other wild and flavoursome foods could be used. The most obvious candidate was the Winter Chanterelle fungi (Cantharellus tubaeformis).
I’d picked at the end of December, although I had my doubts – that proved right, that they would not be flakeable in either a fresh or dried state. Blitzing them up fresh resulted in a lumpy unspreadable mass. Drying them raw or cooked and then attempting to flake them resulted in a brown (from raw) or black (from cooked) powder with numerous hard granular bits. However, I did devise a method that makes superb and delicious semi-dry sheets.
- Fresh Winter Chanterelles
Fresh Winter Chanterelles (collected 30th Dec)
First, cook them in a pan with about 2 tablespoons of water – more water isn’t necessary because after 10 minutes of cooking the fungi have cooked down sufficiently to release much of their own liquid.
Strain this off, reduced it down to a paste and stirred this flavoursome stock back in with the fungi whist heating to remove as much excess moisture as possible.
To improve the flavour I also mix in some finely powdered Boletus edulis (Cep/Porcini) powder.
The fungi then need to be chopped as finely as possible and left to cool…
…before being carefully laid out and shaped into a square on the nylon sheets of the press. In order to facilitate this it was far easier to roughly spread the chopped fungi out first, lay a piece of nylon on top and squash and spread with the fingers through the second sheet
Although this did press and dry well to form a storable sheet that still remained flexible enough to roll for sushi, the drying had toughened it somewhat. So rather than give it the 3 days drying time required I lifted another trial piece out after 12 hours in the press. That was excellent. It was very flexible, strong enough to move about quite freely without breaking and, best of all, fantastic eating as there was no hint of toughness at all.
After 12 hours in the press. Prefect for immediate use!