The basics: DON’T CROWD THE MUSHROOMS! This is one of the key techniques for cooking mushrooms that taste great every time. Cooking mushrooms on their own ensures that you get the best flavor profile and texture from your fungi friends. A dry sauté works great for mushrooms that are moist and very fresh, try it: Heat a cast iron or other skillet to medium-high heat. Chop up your mushrooms as you normally do. Throw the chopped mushrooms into the heated pan and stir occasionally. In a minute or two they will begin to release their water. Keep stirring and cooking for a few minutes until the mushrooms begin to brown a bit and the water is gone. Now it’s time for the butter and garlic! Use whatever fat you are cooking with to brown the mushrooms and bring out their flavor, then add a pinch of salt to taste. If your mushrooms are drier or have been stored for a time, add a 1/2 cup or more water or other liquid (wine, broth, etc.) to the skillet in the beginning & let the water cook off before dry sautéing as described above. Enjoy the simple, full flavor of these great mushrooms!
This is arguably the best of all cultivated mushrooms. Its flavor is strong in umami yet not overpowering, and its texture can range from delicate to meaty depending how it is prepared. In addition to its culinary charms, Shiitake is one of the best known of the medicinal mushrooms: used to treat a variety of conditions ranging from high blood cholesterol to cancer and is a tonic that stimulates the immune system and protects from viruses.
Basic Prep: remove the stems from fresh mushrooms, chop coarsely and dry sauté until the edges of the mushroom are slightly browned then add a splash of cooking oil and soy sauce and continue cooking for a few minutes. This is the great start to a stir-fry, omelet, or snack. Even better is to leave the caps whole, place them gill-side up in a baking dish or skillet, baste the gills with a 1:2 mixture of soy sauce & olive oil, bake at 375 deg. for 20 minutes. THE BEST!
Another very versatile and delicious mushroom, the Oyster, has a mild nutty flavor and delicate texture. Oyster mushrooms are one of the most common wild mushrooms in the world. Growing in almost every climate and continent on the planet, they are commonly foraged in the woods and cultivated on farms. Recently Oyster mushrooms have been shown to decompose petroleum pollutants in the environment and may be part of a solution to toxic oil spills and environmental contamination.
Basic Prep: Great in pasta sauces, stir-frys, egg and fish dishes. Begin by chopping off the "heart" of the Oyster Mushroom cluster (where all the stems come together) and coarsely chop up the caps and stems. Dry sauté the chopped mushrooms until water cooks off. Add olive oil and finely chopped garlic, cook until golden brown then add to your favorite dish. Make a simple pasta sauce by adding a can of diced tomatoes to the cooked mushrooms, then add a splash of wine, balsamic vinegar, chopped fresh herbs, diced garlic, and simmer until reduced to a sauce consistency and serve over fresh pasta.
Definitely one of the most interesting-looking and beautiful mushrooms in the world. The Lion's Mane is a toothed mushroom and can be found growing wild in the Pacific Northwest and New England. Its flavor and texture is similar to crab or lobster meat: a sweet savory flavor, and meaty stringy texture. This is also a renowned medicinal mushroom and is being researched for its potential to re-grow nerves in the brain and for its immune-enhancing and anti-cancer properties.
Basic Prep: Lion's Mane is best enjoyed in its purest form, you don't want to disguise the flavor of this mushroom by cooking it in a complex meal. Tear the whole mushrooms into bite-sized wedges, by separating it like a head of cauliflower. Heat a large skillet and dry sauté the mushroom pieces until all the water boils away and the edges begin to brown. Add a pat of butter to the skillet--enough to coat the mushrooms--and a clove of finely chopped garlic. Cook until golden brown. Dash the cooked mushrooms with a pinch of sea salt and eat them while they're hot. Try them on small pieces of crusty bread or a good cracker.
A cute little clustered mushroom, recognizable by its smooth chestnut brown cap and slender tan stipe. Popular in Italy & Japan, Pioppino grows wild on old poplar tree stumps. This mushroom is characterized by its crisp, crunchy texture and delicious earthy flavor. Great in stir-fry, sauces or miso.
Basic Prep: Similar to Oyster, begin by chopping the individual mushrooms from the "heart" of the cluster. Pioppino stems are just as good as the caps, so there's no waste! Dry sauté and finish them with a splash of sesame or peanut oil and a bit of soy sauce. From here you can make a stir fry dish or delicious soup.
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