The Fish Flavor Enhancer Chef Marc Matsumoto Swears By

If you've ever looked up a recipe online, then you may have come across Marc Matsumoto's work. He's a culinary consultant who has posted more than 1,000 recipes on his website, No Recipes. According to the site, the prolific recipe provider has a unique approach to doling out cooking instructions, giving readers the "why" in addition to the "how." You can also find more of his culinary advice on YouTube, but be forewarned — his upbeat personality is quite encouraging and may lead to overconfidence in the kitchen!

In the Mizuna Sunchoke Salad with Shiitake Salmon recipe on Matsumoto's website, he explains that in his youth, he wasn't initially a big fan of eating cooked fish, due in part to eating his mother's overcooked salmon. He describes her finished dish as a "tough grayish pink block of fish." (Harsh, we know!) He did, however, enjoy the crust which was made of Season All, a seasoned salt that incorporates flavor enhancers like celery, garlic, and onion powder. In fact, he loved Season All so much, he would even eat the savory salt off his hand (via No Recipes). Later in life, it was a craving for Season All that led Matsumoto on a mission to recreate a similarly savory fish crust.

Using shiitake powder to create a flavorful fish crust for fish

In his search to mimic that "umami punch" of Season All, Matsumoto turned to shiitake powder. According to his site, the powder did the trick by helping conceal the taste of the fish while also adding a flavorful crust. The strategy is a convenient one, as Food52 points out, because it doesn't require a machine or, therefore, machine cleanup. But, (in case you just want an excuse to go Williams-Sonoma), the recipe does call for the use of a Microplane. Using this tool, you simply grate the dried shiitake over your salmon.

According to The Spruce Eats, shiitake mushrooms are pricier than your everyday white button mushrooms. But, for the heftier price tag, these little gems come with a meaty texture and a rich, earthy flavor, and the dried variety, like the ones used in Matsumoto's recipe, even offer a hint of smokiness. To find these, The Spruce Eats recommends looking for dried shiitakes in the produce section of your local grocery store or in the Asian products section of the international aisle. If you want to try out the recipe for yourself, head over to No Recipes to get started. And, if you have children, let's just hope they grow up to write kinder words about your fish dinners!