Can matsutake be grown in Australia?

Probably some some of the most significant food news out of Australia in the last ten years is the successful growing of truffles in the Manjimup area of Western Australia.  They haven’t grown the easy ones, they have gone for the real deal.  And the results are not the dry hard lumps other “new world” projects have resulted in. 

One of the good things about Australia is the size of the place gives us a massive variety of climates, soils and weather systems.  Surely, somewhere, we can grow almost anything.

Which brings me to this:

The price is 30,000 yen - nearly 500 Aussie dollars

The price is 30,000 yen - nearly 500 Aussie dollars

I photographed this punnet at a food market in Kyoto – it is slightly bigger than my fist and costs nearly 500 Aussie dollars – they throw in three little yuzu citruses with it to sweeten the deal.

These matsutake mushrooms are in season in the northern Autumn every year and have an amazing long and warm taste.  They are a key feature of the autumn season kaiseki cuisine.  Here is a pic of a dish I was halfway through while staying at the Benkei Ryokan in Arashiyama, Kyoto:

the beer was nice too...

the beer was nice too...

This is a soup that is made with matsutake when it is in its prime.  As you can see, a bit of fresh yuzu squeezed in really freshens things up and provides the balance in flavours.  This is a premium product and you can’t really make matsutake dishes with a substitute mushroom.

The question is, can Australia succeed where China has failed?  Can we grow a quality matsutake mushroom?

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