MAKING MUSHROOMS MORE MEANINGFUL
Chefs are constantly looking for ways to set their recipes apart from the competition. One great way to do this is with our friend the unassuming mushroom.
Mushrooms are not only great at absorbing the flavor of the dish it is prepared in, but they can add more flavor than you would expect, especially when trying out different varieties.
Being on an island has its challenges for chefs that wish to experiment with mushrooms, since some types have too short of a shelf life to make arrival at their destination. However, there are still quite a few interesting varieties that we have had great success with, and certainly enough for you to begin having fun with fungi.
These are also known as common mushrooms or commercial mushrooms. For years these were the main variety that was sold in stores. Over the years, we have seen many more types come into the marketplace. The ones that we sell are small and perfect for sautéing whole or sliced.
3lb SPECIAL WHITE MUSHROOMS
These are the larger size of the white button mushrooms. The sizing is called “silver dollar” as they are silver dollar sized or larger. These are what you would want to use if you were going to be stuffing them. These mushrooms are extremely popular, but the one problem that they have is that they start becoming a brownish-grey color after a few days. This problem is mostly just aesthetic and when they are cooked it shouldn’t make too much of a difference.
A large dark brown mushroom, which is simply a fully mature Cremini. Portabellas are 3-7 days older than Crimini mushrooms when harvested. The name portabella was popularized in the 1980s to sell a then unglamorous mushroom. Because it is harvested later, the portabella can easily reach 5 inches in diameter, and is packed with concentrated flavor. In the matter of portabella versus portobello, both spellings are used. However, the Mushroom Council has adopted the two “a” version to establish some consistency. These are very hearty and will have no problem lasting you through the week.
These are also called Baby Bellas to make them a little more appealing to consumers. These are a fabulous replacement for the standard white mushroom. They are thicker and stronger, have more flavor, and the appearance does not decline as fast as white product.
These Japanese named mushrooms are originally from East Asia. They were considered medicinal in traditional medicine. They grow on the decaying wood of fallen trees. They have a nice texture and flavor, and are used in soups as well as sautéed with other vegetables.
The oyster mushroom is frequently used in Japanese, Korean and Chinese cookery as a delicacy. It is frequently served on its own, in soups, stuffed, or in stir-fry recipes with soy sauce. Oyster mushrooms are sometimes made into a sauce, used in Asian cooking, which is similar to oyster sauce. The mushroom’s taste has been described as mild with a slight odor similar to anise. The oyster mushroom is best when picked young; as the mushroom ages, the flesh becomes tough and the flavor becomes acrid and unpleasant.
ROYAL TRUMPET MUSHROOM
Also known as the King Oyster Mushroom. It has a great range of flavor, depending on the preparation style. It can be sautéed, grilled, braised, stewed, or broiled. Unlike many mushrooms, the stem as the same wonderful texture and flavor as the cap – nothing is wasted. These mushrooms also have a great shelf life.
Also known as the Hen of the Woods mushroom. This is an extremely popular mushroom in Japan, where they can grow up to over 100 pounds. The name Maitake means “Dancing Mushroom”. It has a great meaty flavor, and exceptional shelf life.
These long thin white mushrooms have a slight fruity taste. It is most commonly found in soups, but they should definitely be tried raw in salads, or lightly sautéed. Despite the thin and weak appearance of these mushrooms, we find that the shelf life is fairly good.
HON SHEMIJI MUSHROOMS
Also known as Beech Mushrooms. They come in a brown and a white variety depending on availability. Shimeji should always be cooked: it is not a good mushroom to serve raw due to a somewhat bitter taste, but the bitterness disappears completely upon cooking. The cooked mushroom has a pleasant, firm, slightly crunchy texture and a slightly nutty flavor. Cooking also makes this mushroom easier to digest. It works well in stir-fried foods, as well as with wild game or seafood. Also it can be used in soups, stews and in sauces. When cooked alone, Shimeji mushrooms can be sautéed whole, including the stem or stalk (only the very end cut off), using a higher temperature or they can be slow roasted on a low temperature with a small amount of butter or cooking oil. Shimeji is used in soups, nabe and takikomi gohan.