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Roasted shiitake with Parmesan and ponzu sauce

Shiitake mushrooms can be traced back 1000's of yours to Japan, where they are thought to have originated. It also grows readily on Japanese tsuburajii, locally called the "shii" tree, , a species of Castanopsis tree native to Japan from which the fungus gets its name; the word shiitake is a combination of the Japanese kanji for tsuburaji i(椎)  and take (mushroom) (茸).

Today, mushrooms are commonly available and cherished by chefs worldwide for their earthy flavour and texture. Most commonly, they are dried and stored for use in stews and soups, but fresh mushrooms have a lovely texture and aroma that is missing in the dried variety.

This is a lovely contemporary dish. The roasted mushrooms are delicate, and the sweetness of the cherries and salt of the olives complement their flavour beautifully. The modified ponzu sauce adds a pop. This is a decadent dish that pairs well with grilled meats or other meat-heavy dishes.

This is a wonderful cookbook that was presented to me by friends who have eaten in this restaurant. The photographs are gorgeous, the recipe very ,unique and, like thisthey one, turn out amazing. The Babel estate is perhaps best known for what is certainly Africa's most prestigious edible garden, an incredible living project that is entirely pesticide-free (managed by a team of ducks), supplying a good deal of what ends up on the table here (a guided walking tour of the gardens is a great way to round off your meal or build up an appetite). Voted as South Africa's most earth-friendly restaurant, this is a seasonal restaurant and the cookbook goes through the seasonality in detail. This is a cookbook about farm-to-table ingredients and about simple recipes that allow the ingredients to shine.

For more recipes from this cookbook, click here.


For the mushrooms:

1/2 lb shiitake mushrooms

Olive oil spray

Salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

10-12 fresh cherries

8-10 olives, halved

For the ponzu sauce:

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 teaspoon superfine sugar

1 teaspoon yuzu juice

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 teaspoon lime juice

1 tablespoon honey

A pinch of five-spice powder

Make the ponzu sauce by mixing all the ingredients. Set aside for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 375° F.

Remove the stems from the shiitake mushrooms. Lay them flat, ribbed side down, on an oven-safe baking plate. Spray with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and liberally sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 5 minutes till the cheese has melted. Remove and garnish with the cherries and olives. Serve immediately.

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