FRESH FACT: The oyster mushroom is used widely in Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Indian cooking and is often considered to be an ‘Asian mushroom’, in actual fact however the fungus was first cultivated in Germany (circa 1917) as a subsistence measure after WW1. Since this time, oyster mushrooms have gone on to become one of the world’s most important mushroom crops.
Mushrooms have been a prized food for thousands of years. Today we wanted to showcase the mushroom varieties- used widely in Asian cuisine- that are now enjoying broader culinary use and a growing popularity in Australia. Thanks to modern farming techniques, many of these varieties are now cultivated on our shores and with their unique flavour, texture and appearance they are an ideal complement to the lighter, delicate flavours of the Spring/Summer months.
AVAILABILITY: exotic mushroom varieties are available in varying quantities year round in Australia- with domestic produce farmed in controlled conditions and imported produce on hand we experience few significant breaks in supply. Please note: due to the highly perishable nature of these items SG&S buy fresh from the markets based on demand, therefore notice (minimum 24-48 hours) is required for the exotic mushroom range- in particular Namenko and Chestnut Mushrooms.
ENOKI MUSHROOMS: aka Enok, Enokitake, Enokidake, Golden Needle, Golden, Snow Puff, Vel
Appearance: beige to off white, spaghetti like stems with a small cap on top (wild varieties are light brown and bigger)
Flavour: mild flavour and crisp texture
Preparation: enoki can be eaten raw or cooked (think Shabu Shabu- hot pot), trim base and prepare as desired, if cooking add just prior to serving
OYSTER MUSHROOMS: aka Abalone mushroom, Pleurote, Hiratake, Tree Oyster
Appearance: fan/shell shaped with prominent gills on the underside (reminiscent of an oyster)- range in colour from white, to yellow to pink
Flavour: delicate, subtly sweet and very versatile- velvety texture they absorbs surrounding flavours
Preparation: best after a flash in the pan– team with fish, white meats & noodles- avoid washing, wipe with a damp cloth & trim ends. Order as required, highly perishable
KING OYSTER: aka King Brown, King Trumpet, Trumpet Royale
Appearance: stout mushroom with a small flat cap (creamy-tan in colour)- giving it a trumpet like shape
Flavour: hearty mushroom flavour
Preparation: trim end of stem before use- cooked it reaches its true ‘almond’ flavour potential- retains its firm, meaty texture under heat
NAMENKO MUSHROOMS: aka Nameko mushrooms, butterscotch mushroom
Appearance: sticky looking mushroom with slender white stem and amber- yellow rounded cap
Flavour: slightly nutty flavour, silky texture
Preparation: essential in Japanese cuisine, often cooked in stir-fries and miso soup- alternatively sauté, grill or roast
Appearance: cluster of bunched mushrooms with off-white stems and small brown-grey cap that get whiter as they mature
Flavour: when cooked they boast a mild, slightly nutty flavour with a firm yet tender texture
Preparation: cut stems off base before cooking- great in soups, stir-fries, sauces, casseroles, tempura
SHITAKI MUSHROOMS: aka Shiitake, Black Forest Mushroom, Brown Oak, Oriental Black
Appearance: broad umbrella cap ranging in colour from brown to black with light brown gills
Flavour: with a meaty texture and an aromatic, woody flavour this is a firm favourite
Preparation: remove stalk before cooking- pair with white meats, fish, pastas anything that wont overpower its distinctive, rich flavour. While too tough to eat, the stalks of shitake mushrooms lend a rich flavour to stocks/broths/soups.
WOOD EAR: aka Black Fungus, Ear Cloud
Appearance: grey-brown, shaped like an ear
Flavour: used mainly for their distinctive texture and ability to soak up neighbouring flavours
Preparation: available fresh, this is a favourite in Asian cuisine – think small pieces in soups, stir-fries and risottos
Market Insight- Pine Mushrooms, Ghost Mushrooms, Chestnuts and Pig Ear Mushrooms should be starting/becoming more consistent soon, we will keep you informed as to when they are available. For further information on mushroom varieties please visit our previous bulletins – Packed to the Gills and Into the Wild.
Dandelion, Melbourne- Tofu and mushroom pho with lily buds via Gourmet Traveller– see full recipe here