Soba Soup! (with Maitake Mushrooms in Soy Broth)

We like to eat good food here at Chez Gourmess. And when I say "good food" I mean food that's as delicious to look at as it is to eat, food that's good for you but still feels like a treat, and food that is made up of high quality, animal- and earth-friendly ingredients. Otherwise, what's the point?

French cuisine is of course my forte, but lately, the good food we've been eating and cooking has taken a bit of a turn toward Asia. Especially when Chris is at the stove.

About that...I'm trying to become more tolerant of having someone in my kitchen. Chris told me I can be a bit of a kitchen bully -- so one of my New Year's resolutions is to be nicer to people when they are in my kitchen. (Chris also says it is "the kitchen" not "my kitchen" -- cue eyeroll.)  But, just thinking of someone using my knives and my spices and my beautiful pans, and manhandling my produce...ugh. I guess I have a long way to go...

Anyway, Chris pulled out a dog-eared page from an issue of Bon Appétit magazine that had a yum-sounding recipe , and when he does that, I know he's serious about cooking. So, we gathered all of the ingredients and he went to work on this tasty soup that features buckwheat soba noodles, gorgeous "hen of the woods" a.k.a. maitake mushrooms, and a ginger-garlic soy broth. Topped with scallions, toasted sesame seeds, radishes and a beautiful egg yolk from free-range, happy chickens, it becomes a creamy, dreamy lunch or dinner. And, just like my handsome Chris, it's not bad on the eyes, either. Look how gorgeous the finished dish is!
The ginger and garlic in the broth, the mushrooms and the noodles. Did I mention the mushrooms? OMG. So good. You must try it. Click thru for the recipe for Soba and Maitake Mushrooms in Soy Broth. Yum!

Now, about those mushrooms:
We've encountered maitake or hen of the woods mushrooms several times before. I remember the first time I ever had them. We were having dinner in the grand dining room at the Inn at Shelburne Farms, and there was a dish called something like "The Chicken and the Egg" that included a perfectly cooked egg somehow still in its unbroken shell and some gorgeous hen of the woods mushrooms. There was probably something else divine on the plate, but those mushrooms stole the show. Another year at Shelburne, they soaked up a buttery sauce like sponges, the stars of an earthy, hand-made pasta dish. (Even if you don't like mushrooms, one bite would have changed your  mind.) And, we recently had them in a Tarte Flambée with chives and a Comté cheese gratiné at The Museum of Modern Art's restaurant, The Modern. We devoured it. Ah-mazing.
The mushrooms grow at the base of oak trees, and are plentiful in the fall. Apparently, maitakes have also been used for ages in Asia for medicinal purposes like increasing the immune system, lowering blood pressure and even treating cancer. Maitake means "dancing mushroom," in Japanese, and I agree -- whenever I eat some or see them on a menu, I do a little happy dance. They are one of my favorite things.

Speaking of my favorite things, kudos to Chris for making a beautifully simple, flavor-packed dish and for bringing this recipe into our rotation. I'm looking forward to having it again, soon.