The "King of Mushrooms," both fragrant and delicious... if you can afford it, because this gourmet mushroom really breaks the bank. One mushroom can sell for hundreds of dollars. It is popular as a corporate gift.
[Photo from Wikipedia]
Matsutake has the fragrance of the red pine woods where it grows - only in the wild as commercial cultivation is still impossible. Its season is limited to a few weeks in autumn. It has a thick, meaty stem and is best before the caps opens. Its color is dark brown.
In Japan itself, native supply is insufficient and most matsutake now come from China, Korea, the U.S. or Canada or other countries.
Matsutake is one of the most sought after delicacies. It seems to be prized in the first place for its fragrance.
It is often served in a dobin, a small teapot in which the mushroom has been steamed (dobinmushi). You enjoy the aroma, drink the juice from a small cup and finally eat the mushroom. Matsutake can also be grilled or eaten in rice as matsutake gohan (understandably, if you buy this in the supermarket the slices of matsutake or so minimal that there is no fragrance or taste at all).