Enokidake (Flammulina velutipes) is a well-known delicacy in Japan, where it is appreciated for a fine garnish on soups. Also known as Velvet Stem, Golden Mushroom, and Enoki, the Enokidake mushrooms are surprisingly fruity and slightly acidic, rather than the usual earthy flavor for most mushrooms. Cultivation of the Enokidake, which thrives in North America, has been practiced in the Orient for thousands of years and occurs when the spawn of the Enoki are introduced to a mixture of rice bran, water and sawdust. It takes about 2 months for the mushrooms to develop in darkened, temperature-controlled rooms, after which they are sent to market for sale.
Available year round, Enokidake are available in many Oriental grocery stores, packed in small plastic wraps. Pick bunches that are firm, with white clean caps, and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Eaten raw, Enokidake are crispy with a delicate aroma, and pick up any salad or sandwich. For soups, add these mushrooms in toward the end of cooking, or sautee them until they are browned and soft. The nutritional highlights of this Oriental gem are low in calories, high in fiber, with small amounts of niacin, thiamine and riboflavin.