Hola Adventurers. Are you sick of mushrooms yet? Hope not! Cause the season is just getting good! Until last week, this mushroom was an elusive forest treasure that I just could not find. Probably because they are almost always covered with moss or pine needles.
I just needed to hike around with an expert hunter. Now I can find them just by sniffing. 'Just like a Truffles pig?' you ask? Yes. Just like a Truffles pig. Thanks guys. But really, these beauties are highly prized, especially in Japan, for their strong aroma and complex flavors. Have you guessed yet? Yes! The Great White Matsutake! Aka The Pine mushroom, aka Tricholoma magnivelare,if you wanna get all Latin about it.
Find them on the ground in sandy soils, especially under pine, fir, hemlock, and Douglas fir trees. Sometimes their cap is white and sometimes slightly yellowish, but mostly with brown or cinnamon 'scales'. Pines also have a veil present, which is kinda this fiber that rings around the upper stalk. Their flesh and stalk are very firm, not jiggley at all.
My friend Yuki says the best way to eat these babies, and not ruin the flavor, is to salt them lightly, then roast them on the BBQ (or a campfire!). Serve with soy sauce and lime drizzled on top. So good. If you are wanting to mellow the cinnamonny flavor, then go ahead and saute them with butter and garlic. They are super meaty and will fill you right up. WARNING: Pines very much resemble a white species of Amanita which has a different odor and a more fragile veil, but in the excitement of finding your first Pine mushroom....don't get confused! Make sure you've got the RIGHT one before you BITE one!!!!! Happy Hunting!!!!!