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Mushrooms


Ah the mushroom, that ubiquitous fungi that adds flavor and character to so many dishes

Ah the mushroom, that ubiquitous fungi that adds flavor and character to so many dishes. No wonder we use them so freely, but what we typically buy are those cultivated white button ones that are packaged and available everywhere and limited in flavor and taste. There are however, a world of wild mushrooms that wait to be cleverly used in your next dish that will actually add unique taste, texture and appeal. They are even available in many well stocked supermarkets alongside the generic stuff, at a significantly higher cost, of course. Good thing a few go a long way. The first question is which ones I should use for which dishes. Remember that wild mushrooms offer a robust woody taste that should complement the food for which it is being used. I shall try to dispel the mystery behind these little foragers and open up a whole new world of gastronomic intrigue.

 

When preparing mushrooms, there are some tips that should be followed.

 

• Select firm, plump mushrooms with dry, unwrinkled surfaces.

• Young mushrooms with delicate flavor have closed gills under the cap. As they age, the gills open, and the flavor is earthier.

• Store mushrooms in the refrigerator up to a week in a brown paper bag. Airtight containers cause condensation, speeding spoilage.

• Cook mushrooms before freezing; they'll last up to a month.

• To sauté mushrooms, preheat pan on high, add oil or butter, then add mushrooms, stirring frequently. Crowding the pan will slow cooking, causing mushrooms to release their moisture.

 

 

On a serious note, wild mushroom picking should be left to highly skilled individuals who know what they are looking at

On a serious note, wild mushroom picking should be left to highly skilled individuals who know what they are looking at. There are hundreds of poisonous mushrooms and some are extremely poisonous. One such is known as the “Death Cap” or Amanita Phalloides. Picking mushrooms at the supermarket is a relatively safe experience, aside from the other potentially rude shoppers. Foraging for mushrooms in the wild can get you killed. This particular mushroom, which looks like several others, will kill an average adult by just eating the cap. It will kill a small child with far less than that. Now I am not trying to discourage you from eating mushrooms, but rather to ensure that you do it with a degree of sanity. Regarding wild mushrooms, if you don’t know what you are doing, then don’t even try. If you think you know what you are doing, then don’t try as well. You must be an expert or you can die. You cannot remove the poisons by boiling, steaming or any other cooking method. If you have ingested one, go to the hospital immediately with a sample of what you have eaten. Drive fast, but don’t kill yourself along the way and maybe you’ll survive.

 


• Select firm, plump mushrooms with dry, unwrinkled surfaces

Boletes: French nickname is gros pied, or big foot; in Hungary, sautéed with butter, onion and paprika; in Italy, sliced thin for a vegetarian carpaccio. Also known in Italy as Porcino (plural of porcini): grilled or simmered in stews, a fragrant, oaky, meaty mushroom considered the darling of Italian chefs.

 

 





• Select firm, plump mushrooms with dry, unwrinkled surfaces

Chanterelle: lovely, delicate variety perfect for quickly sautéing in butter or olive oil and used using it to top scrambled eggs or pasta.









• Select firm, plump mushrooms with dry, unwrinkled surfaces

Cremini: baby portobello similar to a white button mushroom but meatier and earthier.

 







• Select firm, plump mushrooms with dry, unwrinkled surfaces

Brown enoki: Richer, meatier than white enoki; a cluster of mushrooms that can be thrown into stir-fries or soups.









• Select firm, plump mushrooms with dry, unwrinkled surfaces

Morel: available in spring; it's meaty and tastes best fried in butter and seasoned with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

 









• Select firm, plump mushrooms with dry, unwrinkled surfaces

Oyster: Has a delicate flavor; delicious used raw in salads or in sautéed dishes.

 









• Select firm, plump mushrooms with dry, unwrinkled surfaces

Portobello: sturdy, steaklike flavor makes it a great substitute for meat; great grilled or sautéed.

 











• Select firm, plump mushrooms with dry, unwrinkled surfaces

Shiitake: Great for stir-frying and sautéing; firm, chewy texture with a mild, woodsy flavor.