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Just Five: Shiitake Encrusted Beef Medallions

January 23rd 01:01pm, 2013

I recently came across an article about shiitake powder and how it transforms food, due to the umami it imparts. Umami is a big deal. It’s sort of the bacon of the current food trends. In a nutshell, it’s one of the five basic tastes in Japanese cooking which also include sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Umami can be translated to mean “pleasant savory taste,” but it’s somewhat of a shadow flavor and not at all easily defined or broken down into a simple ingredient. I know when a dish is missing it, but I’m never entirely certain how I’m going to add it. Soy sauce? Fish sauce? Tomato paste? A-1? (Don’t scoff; I have long considered it umami in a bottle!) Well, now I have a container of ground shiitake mushrooms that I throw onto eggs, into soups and broths, and on top of cooked greens. I don’t even care that much for mushrooms in general, mainly due to their texture, but I do enjoy them with beef. The crust that the powdered mushrooms give the steak is excellent. By adding shallots, ginger and sherry, suddenly it’s a delicious Japanese steakhouse dinner. You can thank umami for that!

Shiitake Encrusted Beef Medallions
Adapted by Dee Ryan from a recipe by Eric Gower originally published in the San Francisco Chronicle
Serves 2

2 beef medallions, boneless ribeye steaks or filet mignons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup shiitake mushroom powder (grind 6 to 8 dried shiitake mushrooms in a clean coffee or spice grinder)
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, sliced thinly
1-inch piece fresh ginger, chopped coarsely (about 1 Tbsp.)
½ cup dry sherry

• Let the steaks sit out for about 15 minutes in order to come to room temperature.
• Lightly salt and pepper both sides of the steaks and then dredge them in the dried shiitake mushroom powder.
• Place a cast-iron skillet or other heavy skillet over high heat, and add the oil.
• When the oil is shimmering, add the steaks to the skillet and cook for 4 to 5 minutes (Do not fuss with the steaks while they are cooking!), then flip them and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until desired doneness.
• Remove the steaks to a plate and cover them with foil.
• Reduce the heat to medium, add a few drops of oil if needed, and saute the shallots and ginger for 2 to 3 minutes. Deglaze the pan by adding the sherry and scraping up any caramelized bits from the bottom of the skillet.
• Add any of the juices from the steaks to the skillet, and then pour over the steaks and serve.

By Dee Ryan

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