Straub’s Scrumptious ’Shrooms

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - February 21, 2007
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Todd Watayabashi and Conrad Pereira
Todd Watayabashi and Conrad

Sometimes I discover a great recipe in the most unlikely of places!

Recently I grabbed a bite to eat at Straub Clinic and Hospital Cafe, and was fortunate to be there on mushroom cutlet day.

I would especially like to thank Executive Chef Conrad Pereira, of the Straub Cafe, which is managed by Sodexho, for getting me this recipe to share with MidWeek readers, (The next time it will be on the menu is Feb. 23 and March 7).

Conrad is a graduate of Saint Louis High School, and while he did not have formal culinary school training, gained his experience working in various restaurants over the last 18 years. He notes that his first cooking job was flipping burgers at the Rose City Diner, where the waitresses wore roller skates and you shot toothpicks in the ceiling. When time permits, Conrad likes to go long-boarding and check out new places to eat.

The recipe was developed by Todd Watabayashi, the lead cook, who also works for Sodexho, and is in charge of all food production at Straub.

Todd is a graduate of Campbell High School and the Kapiolani Community College culinary program, and has worked at many different culinary positions, with his last job being a sous chef at the Mariposa in Neiman Marcus. Todd is a strong family man, and in his time off enjoys playing with his 3-year-old son.

Mushrooms have been consumed since time immemorial.

The Romans believed that they gave strength, and Egyptians considered them food of the gods and prohibited their consumption by the general population.

On the dark side, throughout history mushrooms have been used as a poison, as the cause of the victim’s death is often hard to identify. In 54 A.D., the emperor Claudius died after eating mushrooms fed to him by his wife Agrippina, and there are accounts of Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI dying after being fed poisonous mushrooms in 1740.

When purchasing fresh mushrooms, be sure to pick firm, unspotted, and unblemished specimens.

They should be stored in a non-airtight container, or paper bag to allow them to breathe, and can be kept for about a week in the refrigerator. You may also freeze them; simply slice and place in freezer bags where they will keep for up to three months.

Mushrooms are high in potassium and riboflavin.


* 1 pound sliced medium button mushrooms
* 2 stalks of green onions, chopped
* 1/4 cup matchstick carrots
* 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (thick not fine shred, may substitute fat free or low-fat cheese)
* 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, or garlic powder if watching sodium
* Pinch of white pepper
* 4 large eggs (may substitute egg beaters)
* 1 3/4 cup panko

Pre-heat a 12-inch non-stick skillet on that last notch just before MEDIUM, and use a bit of olive oil or non stick cooking spray.

Combine all ingredients in bowl and mix well; the mixture will be loose.

Using a scoop, place a portion of the mixture (a little smaller than a tennis ball) into the pan. After a few minutes, gently press the ball into the form of a patty.

Fry for a few minutes more until golden brown, check by gently lifting up a side and looking under, and carefully turn and fry until brown.

Drain on a paper towel on a plate. Serve with any topping you like, such as salsa, or marinara sauce.

Note: If you are substituting egg-beaters you might have to add more panko, as they are not as thick as eggs.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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