From A Japanese Salad To A Multi-Shroom Scramble, How To Cook Mushrooms In The Kitchen07:03
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A bounty of mushrooms. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A bounty of mushrooms. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

From a Japanese salad to a multi-shroom scramble, Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst has three mushroom-based recipes to share with host Peter O'Dowd.


Mushrooms are considered a superfood: They are loaded with antioxidants and have all the nutritional benefits of a vegetable, plus those commonly found in grains, beans and meat. Loaded with vitamin B, potassium and fiber, most mushrooms only have about 20 calories per 3 ounces too. They are also extremely versatile and can be used in soups, salads, stir fries, sautés, or stuffed and on their own, like a portobello.

10 Types Of Mushrooms To Have On Your Plate

There are an abundance of different mushrooms out there — some that are poisonous, some that are edible. We thought we would share with you those of the delicious variety:

  • Chanterelles are famous for their gorgeous golden yellow color and their floral, fruity, peppery flavor. This type of mushroom is great with eggs, salads and in ramen or soups.
  • Creminis are baby portobellos. They are mild, light brown and more mature than white button mushrooms. Creminis can be used in all sorts of dishes too.
  • Enoki mushrooms have uniquely long stems and little caps. They look like bean sprouts and are favored in Asian cuisine.
  • Maitakes (also called Hen of the Woods) are prolific in northeastern regions of the U.S., as well as in Japan. “Maitake" means “dancing mushrooms” in Japanese. This mushroom has a delicate, flowery flavor and the advantage of holding its shape when roasted whole.
  • Morels are highly prized and found in the spring and fall. Look for them dried if you miss the few weeks when they are available fresh. Morels have a rich, smoky, forest-like taste. They also have a chewy texture and tend to be quite expensive. 
  • Oyster mushrooms, pale gray in color, are quite delicate and often used in stir fries or sautés.
  • Porcinis (also called cèpes or King Boletes) are found in the spring and the fall, have a rich, intense, meaty-mushroomy flavor and are excellent on top of pasta dishes.
  • Portobellos are large, mature white button mushrooms with fully grown caps. They are mild with a meaty texture and taste great grilled or stuffed and baked.
  • Shiitake mushroom is meaty, savory and has a big umami punch. Used in soups and sauces, it can be sautéed or roasted.
  • Wood ear mushrooms are popular in Asian cuisine and prized for their crunchy texture. You may recognize them from hot-and-sour soup.

More About Mushrooms

How to clean them

For years I heard you should never wash mushrooms, because they are too porous and will soak up all the water. Turns out, that's not really true. You can gently rinse mushrooms with cold running water. Do not soak them or douse them heavily, though. After a quick rinse, lightly dab with clean tea towel, and when cleaning mushrooms with lots of nooks and crannies, like morels, use a paper towel to clean off dirt from the caps and stems, or use a vegetable brush.

Buying dried mushrooms

Morels, porcinis and other harder to find fresh mushrooms can be bought in dried form. Soak the mushrooms in hot, not boiling, water for about 15 minutes, drain, dry and use as if they are fresh. But don't throw out the water you soaked your mushrooms in, because it's loaded with flavor and can be strained and used in sauces, pasta dishes, risotto, paella, etc. 

The dangers

Mushrooms can be dangerous. If you forage for them, go with an expert or a mycology organization. Never assume you know enough about mushrooms to simply pick and eat.


Japanese-Flavored Mushroom Salad With Roast Asparagus

A nod to spring, this salad can be served hot from the oven or at room temperature. Asparagus are roasted in one pan, and a variety of mushrooms are tossed with fresh ginger, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and scallions, then roasted as well. The mushrooms are placed on top of the asparagus, along with the gingery juices from the bottom of the pan. Serve on its own with warm crusty bread or on top of greens — like arugula — polenta, rice or pasta.

Serves 4.

The Asparagus

  • 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

The Mushrooms

  • 3 cups mushrooms, ends trimmed and cut with stems in 1/2-inch-size pieces (I used matsutake, cremini and shiitake mushrooms.)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce, optional
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 scallion, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place asparagus in shallow roasting pan, ovenproof skillet or cookie sheet and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Place mushrooms, olive oil, sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce if using, ginger and scallion in an ovenproof skillet or shallow roasting pan and gently toss.
  4. Place the asparagus and mushrooms on the middle shelf and roast for about 15 to 22 minutes, depending on the size of the asparagus and type of mushroom, until asparagus are almost soft, but not fully cooked or limp, and mushrooms are soft. Keep an eye on your pans, as the mushrooms may cook faster than the asparagus, especially if the asparagus is thick.
  5. Remove from the oven. Place asparagus on a serving plate. Top with mushrooms and any juices from the pan. Serve hot or room temperature.

Two, Three, Four, Five-Mushroom Scramble

This recipe sounds like a Dr. Seuss title. You can use two, three, four or five varieties of mushrooms in this super simple scramble. In the spring, look for morels, Hen of the Woods or spring porcinis.  You can also use more readily available mushrooms like shiitakes, portobellos, oyster mushrooms or creminis. This is an ideal recipe for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and it can be served with crusty bread or buttered toast.

Serves 2.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • About 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped, fresh chives
  • 2 scallions, very thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup portobello, end trimmed and chopped with stem in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup oyster mushrooms, ends trimmed and cut with stems in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup shiitakes, ends trimmed and cut with stems in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup white mushrooms, ends trimmed and cut with stems in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 large eggs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream, optional

Instructions

  1. In a medium-large skillet, heat the butter and oil over moderate heat. Add half the chives and half the scallions, and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, cook, stirring, 6 minutes. If the mushrooms seem dry, add another 1/2 tablespoon oil. The mushrooms should be cooked through and softened.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with salt, pepper, the remaining chives and scallions and 2 tablespoons of the sour cream. Add to the skillet and, using a fork, whisk the eggs over low heat and cook about 3 to 5 minutes until eggs are set. Serve hot with a dollop of the remaining sour cream.

Roasted Mushrooms With Garlic And Shallots

This is the simplest recipe but one that offers incredible flavors and textures. Serve this dish hot and right from the oven, as a mushroom sampler. It’s also delicious served on toasted, crusty bread, on top of pasta, rice, in risotto or spooned on top of grilled fish, meat or poultry. A poached egg on top wouldn't be bad, either. Use as many mushroom varieties as you can get your hands on. If you only use two varieties it will still be impressive, but in this case, the more the merrier.

Other possible variations: Add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup heavy cream to the mushrooms during the last 5 minutes of roasting for a creamy mushroom dish. Or add a splash of white or red wine half way throughout roasting. Or just keep it simple. It’s all about the mushrooms.

Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients

  • 1 large portobello mushroom, end trimmed and cut with stem in 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 3 ounces cremini mushrooms, ends trimmed and cut with stem in half or into quarters if large, or left whole if small
  • 3 ounces shiitakes, ends trimmed and cut with stems in half or into quarters if large, or left whole if small
  • 3 ounces oyster mushrooms, ends trimmed and cut in half or into quarters if large, or left whole if small
  • 2 cloves garlic, one thinly sliced and one finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 maitake mushroom, end trimmed, left whole or cut in half or into quarters if very large
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a large ovenproof skillet or baking dish with shallow sides, mix the portobello and the cremini, shiitake and oyster mushrooms. Toss the mushrooms with the garlic, shallot, salt and pepper. Place the maitake in the center of the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Do not add the olive oil until just before roasting — mushrooms are like sponges and will soak up the oil if you add it too early. Drizzle the oil on, toss and place on the middle shelf.
  3. Roast the mushrooms, stirring once or twice, about 20 minutes. The mushrooms should be tender and the garlic golden brown and the oil sizzling. If the mushrooms are not tender, let roast another 5 to 10 minutes. The maitakes should be intact and just softened.
  4. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.

This segment aired on March 22, 2019.

Related:

Kathy Gunst Twitter Here & Now Resident Chef
Kathy Gunst is a James Beard Award-winning journalist and the author of 15 cookbooks.

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