Make Magnificent Meals With Mushrooms

The key to making the best use of mushrooms is knowing what kind is ideal for each application.

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December 13, 2016 4 min read

The numerous varieties of mushrooms open up possibilities for chefs.
As anyone attending culinary school will learn, mushrooms are a delicious addition to many dishes, serving well as either a complement or a substitute for meat. The key to making the best use of these fungi is knowing what kind is ideal for each application. Here are some ideas for putting a wide range of mushrooms to work in your kitchen.

Keep it simple with button mushrooms
These white mushrooms are the ones commonly available at your local grocery store. They may not be the most exciting variety, but their soft texture and mild flavor makes them a welcome addition to many recipes. The button mushroom can be sauteed and used in a sauce or serve as a topping for salad or pizza.

“Button mushrooms can be sauteed for a sauce.”

To reveal the button’s potential, Serious Eats suggested roasting them for a simple side. Wash the mushrooms and cut them into quarters before tossing them with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange the pieces on a foil-lined baking sheet, topping them with thyme.

Set the sheet in an oven set to 375 degrees Fahrenheit to roast for about 45 minutes, watching for the mushrooms to brown. Then, remove the thyme and place the mushrooms in a bowl. Add fresh herbs, like parsley or tarragon, and serve.

Create a hearty meal with portobello
When you need an extra meaty mushroom, turn to the portobello. This big, brown variety is an adult of the same species as the button, and it’s perfect for when you need savory flavor in a hearty package. Austin culinary arts fans can check out the omelets at Kerbey Lane Cafe for examples of how great this mushroom can be when combined with fresh ingredients like bell pepper, feta cheese and basil pesto.

You can quickly and easily turn a couple portobellos into a satisfying dinner with a recipe like the stir fry suggested by the Minimalist Baker. While cooking rice, wipe off the mushrooms with a damp towel and thinly slice them. Mix a marinade by whisking together ginger, garlic, maple syrup, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, sesame oil, lime juice and water.

Coat the mushrooms and let them marinate for about 10 minutes while chopping a bell pepper, green onion and broccoli. Pour sesame oil into a large skillet over medium heat and saute the portobellos for two to four minutes on either side. Remove the mushrooms, and cook the broccoli and pepper at medium-high heat for about three minutes before adding the green onion for another minute. Combine the rice, vegetables and mushrooms, sprinkling on sesame seeds before serving.

Shiitake mushrooms are delicious in miso soup.Shiitake mushrooms are delicious in miso soup.

Enjoy a steaming bowl of soup with shiitake
This small, smoky mushroom is perfect for soups. Tyler Florence offered directions for combining their distinctive flavor with miso to achieve comforting results. Begin by placing the white parts of scallions, garlic, ginger and sesame oil in a soup pot over a medium heat.

After a minute of cooking, pour in eight cups of water. Rinse off a few pieces of dried kelp, or kombu, and throw them in the pot with bonito flakes. Simmer for 10 minutes, and then remove the kelp. Add the miso and dried shiitakes to cook another 10 to 15 minutes.

When the mushrooms are tender, mix in bok choy. Finally, cook cubes of tofu for the last five minutes. Serve the soup with the green parts of the scallions as a garnish.

These ideas will get you started on cooking with mushrooms, but there’s plenty more varieties and techniques for you to explore as you work toward an online culinary arts diploma or degree. From dried chanterelle in sauces to burger patties made from portobello, the uses of fungi are seemingly endless.

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