Keith Silva is the owner of Lawai Valley Landscaping & Yard Service, which offers over 18,000 plants. Silva, along with his partner and mycologist Bob Bruce, grow about 150 pounds of mushrooms a week at Silva’s 4.5-acre property. Lawai Valley Mushrooms produces six culinary varieties: pearl oyster, pink oyster, grey oyster, kuditdit, black poplar and shiitake.
Kuditdit (pronounced koo dit dit) is the Filipino name for bracket fungi. These mushrooms grow in brackets on decaying mango and tamarind trees, as well as decomposed leaf and organic materials. Lawai Valley Mushrooms (LVM) commercially grows a variety of bracket fungi, also known as tree oyster mushrooms, called sajor-caju. Once classified in the Pleurotus genus (with oyster mushrooms), it was reclassified in 1975 to the Lentinus family, which includes shiitake mushrooms.
Tree mushrooms grow in tropical climates and have been used in mycoremediation of pollutants such as petroleum and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Tree mushrooms also eliminate nematodes by paralyzing them with a toxin.
Lawai Valley Mushrooms grows different varieties year-round. Kuditdit do well in the summer.
What to look for
Select plump, dry mushrooms with a sweet, earthy smell. Age and moisture darken mushrooms and makes them slimy.
Place whole, unwashed mushrooms in a paper towel. Tuck into a plastic bag, seal and place in the refrigerator. The paper towel absorbs excess moisture, so they won’t get soggy. Lawai Valley Mushrooms are very fresh and will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator. Store in the freezer after sautéing.
Cut off lower part of stems to remove shreds of straw or wood. Lightly brush off caps with a paper towel.
LVM’s kuditdit are plump, meaty and mildly flavored. Cultivated oyster mushrooms are sweet and can be used as a subtle flavoring agent. Sajor-caju blends well in a variety of dishes and the stems are tender and tasty.
The best way to cook any mushroom is to put them in a dry pan over medium-high heat. Once the mushrooms begin to release their moisture, add a little oil and cook for a few minutes until caramelized and golden in color. Add fresh herbs such as thyme, parsley or chives at the very end. Serve with toasted bread, pasta, omelets, risotto, seared chicken, fish or beef.
Mushrooms can be served baked, boiled, deep-fried, grilled, pan-roasted, raw, roasted, sautéed or steamed. They pair extremely well with bacon, butter, chives, cream, garlic, ham, leeks, lemon, olive oil, onions, parsley, rosemary, sea salt, sherry (dry) and thyme. Terrific flavor combinations include garlic, lemon and olive oil; garlic and parsley, or garlic and shallots.
Llocano people, the third largest Filipino ethnolinguistic group, combine kuditdit with leafy greens such as marunggay in stir-fries and soups.
Lentinus sajor-caju is a high source of protein (28 grams of protein per 100 grams) and a good source of macronutrients and minerals.
Medicinal properties include antioxidant, anti-tumor, antimicrobial, immune support, cardiovascular, liver protective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic.
Being a rich source of nutritional and medicinal potential, these mushrooms can be used in the diet as nutraceuticals and functional foods. They have been compared to meat, eggs and milk since they have an amino acid composition that is similar to animal protein.
Lawai Valley Mushrooms can be found at
Grocery: Vim ‘n Vigor and Hoku Foods Natural Market. Restaurants: Josselin’s Tapas Bar & Grill, Beach House, Red Salt, Merriman’s Fish House. Farmers Markets: Kauai Culinary Market (Wednesdays 4 to 6 p.m.), Hanapepe (Thursdays 3 to 5 p.m.), Kauai Community Market (Saturdays 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and Lawai Valley Landscaping at 4951 Kua Road. For more information, call 639-0497.
Marta Lane, a food writer on Kauai since 2010, offers farm to fork food tours and is the author of Tasting Kauai: Restaurants - From Food Trucks to Fine Dining, A Guide to Eating Well on the Garden Island. For more information, visit TastingKauai.com.