Otway Forest Shiitake mushrooms

Victorian know-how plus Japanese mushrooms equals delicious results.

WHO In Japan shiitake mushrooms grow on logs of shii, a native evergreen. As we don't have much in the way of shii trees in Australia, Victorian shiitake mushroom grower Rob Wertheimer, part of a sustainable agroforestry community in the green hills of the Otway Ranges on Victoria's west coast, uses blue gum and sugar gum logs from neighbours' farms to grow his fungus with winning results.

HOW The logs are inoculated with shiitake fungus spores then left in cool, damp greenhouses, and nine months later the mushrooms emerge. The majority of the shiitakes are delivered directly to top restaurants (Brae, Flower Drum, The Bridge Room and Cutler & Co among them), but some make it to the retail market. The less-than-perfect specimens are dried, ground and blended with organic sea salt to make a rather excellent, umami-packed condiment that's perfect for sprinkling over a chicken before roasting.

WHY The mushrooms have a firm texture, but their skin has an unctuous quality, which makes them ideal for soaking up any sauce they're sitting in. They can take a good whack of butter, say, while maintaining the rich fungal flavour and subtle, complex scent of the cool, damp forests in which the logs once grew.

WHERE Otway Forest Shiitake mushrooms are available fresh in season (to the end of April) at Georgie's Harvest at the South Melbourne Market. The mushrooms are $7.50 for 100gm; the dried shiitake salt is $15 for 70gm. 


Newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
France leads on food sustainability, Australia lags
08.12.2017
Artisanal Korean ingredients at Table 181
30.10.2017
Adelaide's Ferment the Festival
25.10.2017
The Producers: Fawk Foods
26.09.2017
Meet Your Maker: Tanto, QT Melbourne
14.09.2017
Sydney is part of Airbnb's Flavours of Home
11.09.2017
The Gourmet Traveller podcast

Each fortnight we round up the most interesting characters from the food world for your listening pleasure. We chat to chefs, cooks, authors, bar tenders and baristas - anyone who has something new and interesting to say about the way we like to eat and drink.

Listen
Recipe collections

Looking for fresh dinner ideas? Not sure how to make the most out of seasonal produce? Or do you need to plan the perfect party menu? Our recipe collections have you covered.

See more

You might also like...

Hot 100 2015 - Food

The world is getting hotter and we’re not talking about glob...

Women in Hospitality

A new organisation is empowering women working in the hospit...

The producers: Two Rivers Green Tea

A leading local tea exporter now offers his leaves to the do...

The producers: Colony honey

A selection of regional monofloral honeys sourced direct fro...

Liquid gold

We find ourselves inexorably drawn to salt caramel in a jar....

The producers: Atssu Divers

Hand-dived abalone, turban shell and sea urchin.

Making a scene

Entertainer Julia Zemiro notes there’s little difference bet...

Deutscher’s Turkey Farm

When it comes to talking turkey, the best birds have lived t...

Sandor Ellix Katz Q&A

Food fermentation 'revivalist' and guru Sandor Ellix Katz di...

The producers: Alexandrina Jersey milk

Meet the producers of the creme de la creme of Australian fu...

Gamze smokehouse

Bringing local flavour to artisan-made bacon.

Gourmet Traveller Gourmet Fast app

Now, here's a mighty handful: GT's Gourmet Fast recipes are ...

Food emoji we wish existed

What? More than 200 new pictograms in the latest Emoji set, ...

What is jumbuck?

The jumbuck has leapt straight from the pages of Banjo Pater...

Inside Out almond milk

Thicker, creamier milk, with a more pronounced almond flavou...