I met an old friend from school a few weeks ago. Apart from reminiscing about the good old days and discussing our shared passion for creating art, we also got around to talking about food. I spoke about vegan baking and she shared some of her veggie recipes. She told me about a delicious coconut based curry with Shiitake mushrooms in it and asked if I had any recipes of my own using them. Not having cooked with them before, I was intrigued, so my next Towness order arrived with a pack of dried Shiitake mushrooms, along with the usual veggies and fruits. :)
When I looked up dried Shiitakes online, I found that a good way to use them was to rehydrate in warm water for a few minutes and proceed as one would with other kinds of mushrooms. One person in a forum had empathetically mentioned that the soaking water should be saved and used as a broth because it is full of flavour. I am so glad I took that advice!
These stuffed potatoes were the first dish I used the Shiitake and their soaking water in and ever since then, I've been using them in my cooking a LOT. :)
I use a microwave to cook the pierced, whole potatoes in 5 minutes. But you could use a regular oven or boil or steam the potatoes. No matter what, don't remove the peel because it really adds to the taste.
Potatoes Stuffed with Shiitake Foxtail Millet
1/2 C Foxtail Millet/Navane
5 Dry Shiitake Mushrooms
1/2 Red Bell Pepper
8-10 Garlic cloves
2 tsp Jaggery or Sugar
2 T Olive Oil
Pinch of Caraway/Omum Seeds
Pinch of Turmeric Powder
Freshly Crushed Black Pepper
Warm 1 C of water and soak the dry shiitake mushrooms in it for 5-10 minutes, until they are soft.
Pick out the mushrooms and gently squeeze them over the soaking cup.
Keep aside on a cutting board.
Wash the foxtail millet and keep aside.
In a pan, heat all the shiitake soaking liquid with 1/4 C of water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil.
Add the millet to the boiling water, reduce the heat to the lowest setting on your stove, cover partially with a plate and allow to cook.
The millet will take about 10-15 minutes to be cooked, keep a close eye on it to ensure that it doesn't overflow from the pan.
When all the water has evaporated, the millet is ready.
Fluff with a fork and keep aside.
Meanwhile, scrub and wash the potatoes well.
Pierce them all over with a fork.
Place in a microwave and nuke for 4-5 minutes, on high.
Remove to a plate and let them cool for a few minutes.
Cut each potato in half and scoop out 1/2 to 3/4 of the potato with a spoon, place in a bowl and mash.
Keep the scooped out potato 'cups' aside.
Finely chop the garlic and slice the leek into thin roundels.
Roughly chop the mushrooms and bell peppers.
Heat the olive oil in a large pan or wok.
Add the caraway seeds, they will crackle.
Add the garlic and leeks and stir fry for a few minutes.
Add the mushrooms and red bell peppers and stir fry for a few more minutes.
Add jaggery and stir to allow it to mix and caramelize the vegetables a bit.
Add the mashed potato and stir well.
Add the black salt, turmeric powder and crushed black pepper, mix well and turn off the heat.
Mix the cooked millet to the stir fried veggies.
Add chopped almonds and a big splash of tabasco and mix.
Form this mixture into into 8 balls.
Press a ball into the middle of each scooped out potato cup.
Preheat oven to 250 C.
Place the stuffed potatoes on a baking tray and place the tray in the centre rack of the oven.
Grill for 10 minutes.