Thursday, 15 Nov 2018
Entertainment

A guide to cooking mushrooms, for lovers and skeptics

Ah mushrooms. It's not really an animal, a vegetable or a mineral, but a mixture between the two: a mushroom, that is to say that he is forever condemned to make jokes to his father ("What a funny of dude!

They are also one of the most controversial foods.

It can be a texture thing. A thing of aroma. Or something about how certain mushrooms grow on decaying or dead things. (Almost everything you buy is grown by producers in controlled environments).

The biggest problem, food? "If anybody has a habit of eating them unprepared, they will accuse the ingredient," says journalist Eugenia Bone, author of "Mycophilia: The Revelations of the Weird World of Mushrooms". "No ingredient has suffered as much from it as the mushroom. "

To avoid this sad situation, here are three helpful tips for cooking mushrooms – this could help make some converts.

Expand your reach When you're cooking with more exotic varieties, "It adds a lot more flavor," says David King, the owner of King Mushrooms, who sells a wide range of mushrooms at Washington-area farmers' markets. King has lion's mane, pioppini and wild hen among his reserves – but even if you can not get it, you can always improve your mushrooms without going anywhere else than your local grocery store.

Take shiitake, for example, which is commonly available nowadays and gives a smoky and earthy flavor. "It's a great starting point if you're looking for something that looks like an improvement over a mushroom," says King. Oyster mushrooms are another option you might spot at the supermarket, like the Portobello, which is basically an adult mushroom that has been allowed to grow longer.

In Mushroom Lover's "Mushroom Cookbook," Amy Farges suggests getting familiar with the new varieties by trying them one at a time and replacing them with white mushrooms in some of your favorite recipes.

Think about how you want to use them. Examine and read whatever variety you buy. The fleshy and dense types, such as shiitake, portobello and royal trumpets, will withstand the heat very well, says Bone. You have to be careful and use less heat with more delicate types, such as enoki, oyster and maitake.

Farges explains that fleshy and firm mushrooms are perfect for grilling and roasting. Moderately firm mushrooms and chanterelles are still a little juicy and can keep their shape in stir-fries and stews. She and Bone both recommend keeping delicate varieties for a quick jump.

The important thing to keep in mind is that mushrooms are mostly water. In most preparations, you want to eliminate this water to concentrate their aromas and avoid diluting a dish. Sauter works for this purpose, as well as roasting. Avoid piling them in a saucepan or pan, as this will prevent the water from evaporating, which will cook the mushrooms steamed.

If you are thinking of eating raw mushrooms, be very careful because all varieties, including morels, should not be eaten raw, says Bone.


(Tom McCorkle for the Washington Post, Lisa Cherkasky's Layout for the Washington Post)

Make them shine. What you do not want to do with mushrooms, is to lose their unique texture and flavor of umami in a dish where they are mixed with a bouquet of vegetables or mastered by competing flavors. "They are better when they are the star," says Bone. Thyme, eggs, cream and garlic are complementary ingredients.

Bone says it's often useful to treat mushrooms in the same way as meat, whether it's cooking, whether it's grilling, roasting or stewing. "They have this protein in them that makes them a bit like meat," she says. "They are closer to us on the tree of life than plants."

One of the best ways to enjoy mushrooms is simply to roast them and not to let them brown. "I like a lot my crispy mushrooms on the edges," King says. He likes to cut a variety and throw it on a plate with olive oil.

Roasted and sauteed mushrooms, especially when cooked with garlic and herbs, are a simple but substantial garnish for toast, pasta or risotto. They can even stay alone as a camp.

Bone also likes to roast the mushrooms until they are caramelized, but it goes to the next level by mixing them with garlic, thyme, olive oil, lemon peel, vinegar and pepper. It then keeps the canned mixture in a sterilized jar for use in a variety of dishes throughout the week. She also recommends trying the duxelle, which looks chic but simply consists of a mixture of finely chopped mushrooms, shallots and herbs. Try it on toast, with golden eggs, or as a meat stuffing (with Wellington beef) or ravioli.

Almost everyone will have a hard time withstood stuffed mushrooms, cheese and breadcrumbs or anything else you can dream of stuffing. Soups and stews are another way to enhance mushrooms. King sells a very popular Hungarian mushroom soup, making a dozen week-long pots with a mushroom mix he grows.

These are just a few ways to deepen your knowledge of mushrooms. "They are very versatile," says King.

Now some recipes from our archives to help you put these tips to use:


(Goran Kosanovic for the Washington Post)

Mushrooms roasted with beer. Mushrooms are like little sponges to absorb the flavors, and beer, garlic and herbs here are especially effective.



(Goran Kosanovic for the Washington Post)

Bread with mushrooms. This quick and easy treatment is perfect for a weekday dinner.



(Deb Lindsey for the Washington Post)

Shiitake chips. Eat them as a snack or use them as a crunchy garnish.



(Katherine Frey / The Washington Post)

Portobellos Stuffed With Caramelized Onions And Manchego. Meet your new go-to party.



(Deb Lindsey for the Washington Post)

Grilled oyster mushrooms and poblano sandwich. Oyster mushrooms may contain both a grill and a stuffed sandwich.

More from Voraciously:

How to cut, dice, chop, julienne, crumble and master the common vocabulary of knives

11 ingredients to add to your pantry to channel Ottolenghi's favorite flavors

How to prepare seasonal hot drinks at home

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