How To Cook Enoki Mushrooms: A Quick Guide
If you’ve never heard of or seen enoki mushrooms, prepare to have your life changed. These tiny little strings of edible fungus have a subtle savory flavor that completes a dish. Because of their unique size and shape, you may feel a little unsure of how to prep and cook them.
After this guide, we hope to teach you everything you need to know about enoki mushrooms to cook them. They may just become your new favorite ingredient that you’ll want to add to everything! So let’s dive in and learn how to cook enoki mushrooms.
What Are Enoki Mushrooms?
Enoki mushrooms, or Flammulina velutipes, are one of the few mushroom types that actually prefer the cold weather, so they primarily grow in the winter when other mushrooms don’t grow.
One of the main reasons enokis are so popular is because the kind you find in the grocery store don’t look like the kind of mushrooms you find in the wild. That’s because enokis are actually cultivated in jars in the dark to get a distinct look and flavor.
In the wild, their tops are brown and broad, and their stipes have a black and fuzzy base. But when cultivated in the dark, these mushrooms conserve their energy, growing narrow and long, to try and stretch towards the light, while only creating a tiny white cap and retaining that white color through the body.
As far as flavor goes, enokis are deliciously umami. They’re high in guanylate, which gives them that intense umami flavor that enhances all sorts of different dishes — that’s why they’re especially popular in Japanese stews!
Where Are Enoki Mushrooms Originally From?
From China to Wisconsin, this mushroom species grows worldwide. But the long string-like enoki forms of the mushrooms rarely grow in the wild.
During the 17th century, they found their way to Japan. However, the first record of them being cultivated in the enoki, or enokitake fashion, is in China in the 8th century.
For most of this time, they were cultivated on wood, but Japan revolutionized their production by cultivating them in bottles and jars in the 1960s. Since then, their production has ramped up everywhere, and you can find them in Asia, North America, and all over the world.
How Should Enoki Mushrooms Be Prepared?
For the most part, preparing enokis is fairly similar to how you would prepare other mushrooms, but there are a couple of things you may need to watch out for. For example, because they’re so tiny, they need a lot lower cook time than normal mushrooms.
Here’s what you need to know!
Remove the Root Ends
First thing’s first, remove the root ends of the enokis. Enoki mushrooms come in a big bunch, all springing up from the same root. Don’t forget to cut off that root.
The root isn’t quite as tasty as the rest of the mushrooms, and you want your enokis all disconnected from each other so they can distribute across your dish.
Wash the Mushrooms
This is a crucial step with any mushroom, and enokis are no exception. Mushrooms are often covered in dirt and other debris. You don’t want any of that getting into your dish and jeopardizing the flavor.
The best way to do this is by filling up a bowl with cold, clean water and giving your mushrooms a gentle bath. If your enokis are covered in dirt, you can replace the water and repeat until the stems are clean.
Alternatively, you can put your mushrooms in a colander and rinse them under cool water — just don’t do the whole “tossing” thing, you want to be gentle with your mushrooms!
Just like other mushrooms, it is important to use enoki mushrooms right after you wash them. The extra moisture can cause your enokis to spoil quickly, so you’re either going to want to eat them right after the wash.
Can Enoki Mushrooms Be Eaten Raw?
You can absolutely eat raw enokis. It’s perfectly safe, and it can also be fun to snack on while you’re prepping your meal.
The true umami of these mushrooms comes out as they cook, so do note that popping a raw enoki in your mouth won’t deliver the same gentle sweetness and rich umami that a cooked enoki will.
How Do I Cook Enoki Mushrooms?
There are a lot of different ways to cook enoki. And once you discover the variety of ways, your taste buds will be tingling, and your mouth will be watering.
One of the more common methods is to sauté your enokis. Although this might not be the healthiest option, the taste is absolutely worth it.
Slowly cook your enokis in about a tbsp (or two) of butter on low to medium heat. Then, add some salt and a dash of pepper, based on your preference. This adds a lovely creamy texture that enhances the umami and can deliver a light crispiness that completes the taste.
Stir-frying is a bit different than sautéing. To stir-fry your enokis, break out your wok for that rounded bottom, add some oil, add your enokis, and set to high heat. Keep stirring your enokis in constant motion!
This will cook them pretty fast, so keep your eyes on them. As a result, your enokis will be nice and crispy. Place them on paper towels to get the excess oil off and top off with salt.
Those crunchy, savory little strips are great as toppings and garnishes.
You can also steam your enokis. This method is great if you’re looking for a more delicate flavor out of your mushrooms. It’s especially helpful for soups and stews. Although it might not be the most popular method of preparing enoki mushrooms, it is the healthiest way to cook them.
How Long Do Enoki Mushrooms Take To Cook?
Due to their thin size, enoki mushrooms will cook pretty fast, especially if you’re stir-frying them. Watch them closely, so they don’t overcook.
When sautéing, it can take about five minutes to cook your enokis to perfection, but it may only take about two when stir-frying.
What Should I Eat Enoki Mushrooms With?
The umami flavor of enoki is versatile and can be added to most Asian dishes. In fact, there are a few dishes that commonly use enoki that we’d be remiss to not mention!
Who doesn’t love a hot bowl of ramen with a collection of delicious toppings? Enokis are a common option as a ramen topping — they’re structurally similar to noodles, so they work really well here as they can be easily grabbed with chopsticks alongside ramen noodles.
Their savory flavor and lighter texture both complement and add a subtle contrast to the intense umami in the dish.
Garlic and Scallions
There aren’t a lot of ingredients that don’t work well with garlic and scallions, and enokis are definitely top tier. Umami from the enokis, the light acidity from the garlic, and the perky brightness from the scallions make for a simple and elegant combo.
This trio of flavors serves as a tasty garnish to most dishes or even as a side dish to the main course.
Soups or Stews
Enokis are especially popular in the nabe hot pot soups and stews in Japan. This classic dish utilizes savory ingredients, like enokis, to make a hearty stew that is tough to beat during the cold winter season. These mushrooms lightly absorb the delicious broth of the soup, which enhances their flavor.
Soba is one of the most classic Japanese noodle dishes out there. Often served cold in the summer with a dipping sauce, soba is a popular and versatile dish.
Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour, so they’re high in protein and fiber. This also gives them an earthy, nutty flavor that sets them apart. When combined, the nuttiness of soba noodles with the delicate umami of enokis is a match made in heaven.
Pairs Well With Vegetables
Enokis go great with other vegetables as well. Who doesn’t love a great veggie stir-fry? Enoki mushrooms are a perfect addition to any veggie dish because of their versatile, savory flavor and unique texture, which complements a variety of vegetables.
Can I Freeze Enoki Mushrooms For Later Use?
Enoki mushrooms have a shelf life of up to one week when stored in a paper bag in the refrigerator. When storing enoki mushrooms, you should know that it is not a great idea to freeze them before cooking them. As with all mushrooms, enokis have a high water content. So as they thaw, they can get mushy and won’t cook (or taste) right.
Enokis are a staple ingredient of Japanese cuisine and are quickly gaining in popularity worldwide. Their unique shape catches the eye, and it allows them to be cooked to a delicious crisp in a way that other mushrooms just can’t.
If you want to pick up some enoki mushrooms, check out Umamicart for all of your Asian grocery needs. Umamicart ships right to your door, so you don’t have to worry about any hassle. What are you waiting for? Order now, and you’ll be crisping a batch of enokis in no time.