The flavors of fall...
In Japan, fall is the season for chestnuts, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, persimmons,and the new rice harvest. Unsurprisingly, fall dishes in Japan feature these ingredients prominently. One of the most expensive of these is the pine mushroom, which cannot be cultivated.
Japanese harvests of pine mushrooms are greatly reduced, and most flooding the market come from China, America, or Canada. Japanese-grown mushrooms can fetch upwards of $90 a mushroom and thousands of dollars a pound.
Pine mushrooms are most commonly used in rice dishes and prepared simply to let their spicy flavor shine. Traditionally freshly-grated lime zest is sprinkled over the hot rice and mushrooms.
I caved and bought a small mushroom from Canada for about $15, in mixed it with cheaper mushrooms to make pine mushroom rice. Was it good? Yes. Was it worth a $15 mushroom? Probably not.
My second nod to Japan's autumn traditions was to attempt chestnut rice using new harvest rice. Boiling and peeling the chestnuts was much more work than I was anticipating! Would also recommend reducing the salt in the recipe: