Know Your Mushrooms
Choose clean, dry mushrooms with a firm texture that are free of
bruises and blemishes. Store in the refrigerator in a closed paper bag. Plastic
bags cause quicker deterioration. At preparation time, rinse mushrooms quickly
in cool water or wipe with a damp paper towel to remove any peat moss particles.
Peeling mushrooms is not recommended.
AGARICUS (white or button) -- The most widely available, all-purpose mushroom is
snow white to beige in color with a mild flavor and firm texture. Serve raw or
cooked. Mature specimens with open veils under the cap have a deeper, richer
flavor. Shelf life: 5-7 days.
CREMINI (Italian or Roman brown) -- Similar in appearance and versatility to the
agaricus but light tan to deep brown in color. (They are of the same genus and
species.) The flavor is slightly earthy, the texture dense and firm. Shelf life:
ENOKI (enokitake) -- Fine and thin, creamy white, long-stemmed mushrooms with
tiny caps, a mild flavor and crisp texture. Best used raw in soups and salads.
Often used as a garnish for Asian dishes. Shelf life: Up to 14 days.
MAITAKE (Hen of the Woods) -- A very fragile, light brown to gray, overlapping,
leafy formation, or clump, that can grow as large as a head of lettuce. They
have an exotic, delicate flavor when cooked or eaten raw. Shelf life: Up to 5
OYSTER (pleurotus) -- A velvety, fluted mushroom grown in a range of colors
including yellow, pink, brown, gray and white. Whether raw or cooked, the oyster
mushroom's flavor, sometimes compared to the shellfish of the same name, is mild
and briny, and the texture delicate and silky. Shelf life: 5-7 days.
PORTOBELLO (also portabella) -- A mature cremini darkens in color and becomes a
portobello when the veil under the cap breaks and the gills are visible. They
range in size to 6 inches in diameter. The intense, earthy flavor and chewy
texture is often described as meat-like. Best when cooked. Great on the grill.
Shelf life: 7-10 days.
SHIITAKE (oak, Chinese or Black Forest) -- The umbrella-shaped shiitake is tan
to tawny brown in color with an open veil between the stem and cap. The flavor
is woodsy and rich. Shiitakes are best when cooked. Discard the fibrous stems
before cooking or save for the stock pot. Shelf life: Up to 14 days.
Mother Nature still has the upper hand with farmers when it comes to growing
chanterelles, morels, porcini (known also as cepes) and other wild mushrooms.
They are difficult to cultivate. Nearly all are hand picked in the wild (where,
of course, they are free) and then brought to markets (where they are generally
very expensive). But only the highly experienced and knowledgeable forager
should gather wild mushrooms. Many toxic mushrooms look much like the edible
ones and need to be identified by a trained expert. It is far safer to buy these
exotic delights from a reliable source and enjoy them knowing they are safe,
even if you have to pay a premium price.
When cooking with mushrooms, it is important to remember that each type offers
its own aroma, intensity and flavor, and trying new ones will add another
dimension to your recipes. You can build a dish around just one mushroom or put
two or more together for a more complex flavor.
BOLETE (cepe, porcini) -- This European favorite is a soft-fleshed mushroom with
pores instead of gills under its rust-brown cap. The stem is round and bulbous.
Fresh boletes have a bright, woodsy aroma and flavor. The texture of a sautéed
cap and stem is meaty. Check carefully for insects.
CHANTERELLE -- Beautiful, trumpet- or funnel-shaped fungi, with a fruity,
apricot-like flavor, that can be found in shades of golden yellow as well as
orange and red. Handle fragile chanterelles carefully.
MOREL -- Distinctive, cone-shaped mushrooms with a pronounced earthy aroma and
flavor. They can be colored in shades from beige to black. Avoid mushy, soft
caps. The hollow core can harbor insects.
Razzle Dazzle Recipes
Copyright ©2002 - 2012