So, I am back to my love for Mushrooms and my cravings for Umami. “Umami” is our “fifth sense” of taste, after sweet, salty, bitter and sour. In Japanese, Umami means “deliciousness”, a taste that gives us a sense of fulfillment — a meaty, savory, rich, brothy taste. It takes the name (umami) given by it’s Japanese discover, Professor Kikunae Ikeda. Like the salts taste salty, sugars give us sweet, acids provide sour taste and alkalis’ a bitter taste, umami is a taste from glutamates.
Our bodies crave for rich proteins for satiety and taste fulfillment. And this is exactly why we need to eat our glutamates! Very few select foods provide us with these umami components. They say a human baby’s first encounter with high “umami” is the breast milk. Some foods that top the list in being high on Umami are meats, seafood, mushrooms, aged cheeses and soy sauce. It is important (for many reasons) that we have a diet of umami. They help us cut down on the salt content, provides this height of gratification, enhances food flavor so is more satisfying, teases and pulls-in our appetite, as well as produces quick satiety at the same time.
When a person craves for that something, he could load you with ten thousand scientific and non-scientific reasons why the food is good and a must-have. And you think I just did that? Ha, probably!!!! 😉 My other excuse would be that I didn’t want to be unfair to the remaining mushrooms that were left after I used the other half-box of mushrooms to do the yummy Mushroom Biryani, earlier this week. I wasn’t in a mood for anything elaborate. Just a quick, easy and yummy recipe that my little girl J can gladly eat too! Stuffed mushroom caps are the easiest of Mushroom recipes. They taste great, are mouth-watering and very kid-friendly. There are two additional things I like about this recipe. One that this ones extremely adaptive and flexible — you could make absolutely any stuffing of your choice — be it all vegan, eggs, seafood, white or red meat! And the second other thing is how beautifully we can recycle the discarded mushroom stems and re-use them into the stuffing here. I do not like throwing away or wasting anything edible while still within its shelf-life period. So the stems here get all used up, add that nice “mushroomy” taste and texture to my stuffing, plus also enhances the umami taste! What a win-win trick, isn’t it?
So here’s the recipe for stuffed mushroom caps that don’t get to stay on the plate for long! I got so tempted and was so drooling that I stole away a couple of my stuffed mushrooms (and hid them in my mouth), when they were on their way, being transferred from the microwave to this plate, so I could picture them for you. Now isn’t that called dwelling in happiness?
- About 8 oz or 230 gms white petite mushrooms (roughly 12-14 mushrooms)
- 1 tsp garlic powder or garlic paste
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper (add more if you like it spicy)
- 2 tbsp boiled and mashed potatoes
- 1/4 tsp onion powder or paste
- 1 tsp cooked spinach leaves (optional)
- 1 tbsp shredded parsley leaves (or any fresh/dried herb of your choice)
- 3 tbsp of cream cheese
- Shredded sharp-cheddar cheese or breadcrumbs or dried herbs to garnish and finish
- salt to taste
- Wash and pat dry the mushrooms — yes, these little men are always dirty and we’d like them clean on our plates!
- Carefully pull or scoop out the stems without breaking the mushroom caps
- Trim and chop the stems finely to be reused. Chop them until they are reduced to small pieces.
- In a frying pan on stove-top, melt the butter. Melt at medium heat and avoid burning the butter.
- Add the garlic powder or paste and throw in the mushroom caps.
- Saute the mushrooms, until they get a lovely reddish-brownish coat.
- Take out the mushrooms from the pan, just as they begin to leave water.
- If you need, add a little butter or olive oil to grease the pan and then, cook the stems in it.
- In a mixing bowl, mix the cooked stems, cream cheese, onion powder, mashed potatoes, spinach and parsley. Adjust salt.
- Hold a mushroom cap upside down and carefully fill in the mixture into it. Place the stuffed head on a microwave safe plate. Repeat this for all the mushroom caps.
- Now top these stuffed caps with shredded cheddar cheese. If you like them a little crunchy, then replace the cheddar with some breadcrumbs.
- Place the plate in the microwave oven and bake for about 2 minutes, or until the cheese is melted or the breadcrumbs toasted and crunchy.
- Finish it with a sprinkle of dried herbs! Take one with whatever you find, a fork, food pick or your handy-hand and gobble!!
- If you are not a big fan of potatoes or spinach, replace them partly or completely with cooked and minced veggies of your choice. The cream cheese in the recipe shall provide for a good binder and stuffing base for you. If the cooked veggies release a lot of water, make sure you add them after getting rid of excess water. Water can cause the stuffed mushrooms to bleed and will make them very soggy.
- Egg Stuffing: Use 1 plain scrambled egg or 1 boiled and minced egg, 2 tbsp boiled and mashed potato, 2 tbsp cream cheese, 1/2 tsp or more fresh ground pepper, 1 tbsp minced parsley or chopped cilantro/coriander leaves, cooked mushroom stems, 1/4 tsp paprika or dry chilly flakes or red chili powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder or paste, 1 small pinch of ground nutmeg (grated or powdered Jaiphal), 1 tsp finely chopped scallions or spring onions, and salt to taste. Follow the other steps above as stated.
- Seafood/Fish/Clams, Chicken, or Red meat stuffed Mushrooms: For the stuffing, use 2 tbsp boiled and mashed potatoes with 2 tbsp cream cheese, 1/2 tsp butter, 1/2 tsp or more fresh ground pepper, cooked mushroom stems, 1 tbsp minced parsley or chopped cilantro/coriander leaves, 2 tbsp seasoned and sauteed/boiled and pulled/grilled and shredded/cooked and done, meat of your choice, 1/2 tsp fried onions or onion powder or paste, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp finely chopped scallions or spring onions, 1 pinch of ground nutmeg (grated or powdered Jaiphal) and salt to taste. (Do not add more nutmeg, onions or garlic, if while cooking, you’ve seasoned the meat with spices, onions or ginger/garlic already.) Follow the rest of the directions as is.