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Pholiota nameko

Nameko -- Click for larger image

The nameko is imported from Japan in small cans for high prices. It is a cultivated mushroom, round in shape, orange in color, gilled, and 1-1/2 inches in diameter. When you open the can you will find it suspended in a thick gelatinous soup made of its juice. Purchase only the expensive brands--the cheaper ones are not as good.


It is usually eaten with steamed rice to which a few drops of soy sauce have been added. When heated, it separates from the material in which it is encased. Add the mushroom with this liquid to miso soup.

They are often found enclosed in sushi rolls in Japanese restaurants. In Japan it is packaged fresh. We challenge all comers to lift one with chopsticks.

Miso Soup with Nameko Mushrooms

Serves 4 as a first course

Dashi is a broth made from the sea vegetable kombu, collected from the icy coastal waters of the islands of Japan. It may be purchased in Asian or natural foods stores as a dehydrated powdered broth. Traditionally, miso is made from fermented soy beans with combinations of grains. Red miso is usually made with rice. Mixed with nameko mushrooms, this soup is delicious.

  • 3 cups water
  • About 1 tablespoon dashi powder
  • 3-1/2 tablespoons red miso
  • 1/2 cup diced tofu (optional)
  • One 7-ounce can nameko mushrooms

Heat the water in a large saucepan and add 1 tablespoon dashi powder, or the amount required to make 4 cups of dashi (see the instructions on the dashi powder container).

In a small bowl, liquefy the miso with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the dashi water, then mix with the remainder of the dashi water in the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and immediately add the tofu and the nameko mushrooms with their liquid. After a half minute or so, when the broth is heated almost to the boiling point, the soup is ready to be served. Do not overcook.

--Tom Sasaki

Nameko Mushrooms and Daikon

Serves 4 as a side dish

Daikon is a mild Asian radish used in many Japanese food preparations. The peppery, crisp quality of diakon contrasts sharply with tofu and nameko mushrooms. Purchase only the more expensive brands of nameko mushrooms. The cheaper ones are not as good.

  • 1/4 cup or more grated daikon
  • One 7-ounce can nameko mushrooms, drained, with liquid reserved
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce or more
  • One 16-ounce block tofu (optional)
  • 1 sheet nori (optional)

Mix the daikon with the nameko mushrooms. Season with the soy sauce; add more according to taste.

If serving with tofu, add a little liquid from the can of mushrooms to the daikon mixture and mix it with chopsticks. Cut the tofu into 1/2 to 3/4 -inch cubes and divide into 4 separate servings, about 1/2 cup each. Pour the mushroom mixture over each serving.

If using nori, toast it over an open flame with a fork until it becomes green and crisp. Let cool, then crush it in your hand and sprinkle it on top of the dish. If the tofu is too bland for your taste, add additional soy sauce.

--Tom Sasaki