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Flammulina velutipes

This cultivated introduction from Japan looks like no other mushroom. Long legged, uniformly smooth and cream colored, it resembles a bean sprout or perhaps a straightened spaghetti noodle with a tiny mushroom cap. Other common names are "golden needle," "winter mushroom," and "velvet foot." In Japan it is called enokidake.

Enoki -- Click for larger image

The winter mushroom grows wild in North America during the fall and winter months. It is found clustered on hardwood stumps, frequently as snow is melting around it. Its appearance is totally different from that of the cultivated form. The caps are 2 to 3 inches broad, yellow to tan in color and sticky to the touch, while the stems are shorter and covered with red-brown velvet (velutipes means "velvet foot").

Cultivated enoki are sold canned and in long bottles, or packed fresh in plastic containers. Be sure to examine fresh ones carefully before buying them. They should be shiny but not slimy, and firm, not soft. The base of the clump should be clean and not decomposed. Cut the lower 1/2 inch or more from the bottom of the stems, which tend to be tough and fibrous.


Rinse before using and pour boiling water over them.


As a complement to almost any salad, enokis will add crispness and a subtle radishy flavor similar to nasturtium leaves and flowers. Eaten raw, they will leave a hint of pepper on your tongue. Toss some into soup during the last few minutes of simmering, or drop them into stir-fried vegetable or meat dishes just before serving.

Fresh, crisp enokis refrigerated in their original package will keep well for about a week.

Hot and Sour Soup with Three Kinds of Mushrooms

Serves 4 to 6 as a first course

A traditional hot and sour soup that includes enoki, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms. Firm tofu is available in Chinese markets.

  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 single chicken breast, skinned, boned, and minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup chopped bamboo shoots
  • 1/2 pound Chinese-style tofu, cut into cubes
  • 6 to 8 large fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 handful oyster mushrooms, cut into strips
  • 1/4 pound enoki mushrooms
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil

If using dried shiitakes, soak them in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain. In a large pot, bring the broth to a simmer and add the chicken, ginger, and bamboo shoots. Stir the tofu into the soup. Slice the shiitakes and add with the oyster mushrooms to the broth. Add half the enokis, and the chopped green onions.

Dissolve the cornstarch in water and stir slowly into the simmering soup. Remove from the heat, adding the soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil, and adjust the seasoning. Top with the remaining enokis.

--Terri Woodring

Natural Food Sandwich

Serves 2

Treat crunchy enokis as sprouts in this sandwich lunch.

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Cayenne to taste
  • 1 large avocado, peeled and mashed
  • 4 slices whole-grain bread
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 2 tomato slices
  • Grated Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 package enokis, washed and trimmed

Mix the soy sauce and cayenne with the mashed avocado. Place a layer of the avocado mixture on 2 slices of bread, then the tomato, grated carrots, and cheese, ending with the enoki mushrooms. Cover each slice with a second slice of bread. Press down and cut diagonally.

--Louise Freedman

ALTERNATE MUSHROOM: Common Store Mushroom