. Cooking Mushrooms
- Mushroom Cooking Tips
Eating Raw Mushrooms: With a few exceptions, such as the common store mushroom, we do not recommend that mushrooms be eaten raw. Uncooked mushroom tissues are poorly broken down for digestion, depriving us of their nutritional contents. Many varieties of wild mushrooms are disagreeable when eaten raw because of viscid surfaces or peppery characteristics. However, they become readily digestible and delectable when cooked.
Using Butter and Cream: Butter seems to enhance the flavor of most mushrooms, except for some of the Asian varieties such as matsutakes and the ear mushrooms. We recommend unsalted butter in cooking. Lemon juice helps mushrooms maintain their color and adds zest to their flavor.
It is a common observation that mushrooms in some recipes seem to taste much better when cream is added. It is a culinary reality that cannot be avoided despite the current trend away from cream sauces. Milk may substituted for cream if diet is of greater importance than taste.
Adding Salt: It is recommended that salt be added to most of the recipes in this collection to satisfy individual taste preferences. We are aware that many mushroom fanciers must limit salt for health reasons. Salt should be added towards the end of cooking, since it tends to remove water from mushroom tissues and makes them too soft.
Slicing Mushrooms: Slicing mushrooms allows for more rapid cooking and water loss than when mushrooms are cooked whole. Cut them into uniform thicknesses and they will cook more evenly. Mushrooms with mild and subtle flavors should be cut into large pieces so that their savory juices can be better appreciated. The best tool for cutting mushrooms is a sharp 5 1/4-inch utility knife.
For uniform slicing, because the caps have varying sizes, shapes, and textures, cut mushrooms in half so that they will lie flat on the surface of the cutting board. Soft species such as shaggy manes are difficult to cut unless the knife is sharp and the cut firm.
Precooking Mushrooms: Wild mushrooms are often precooked for several different reasons. If freezer storage is planned, it is best to sauté them in butter first, so they will have firmer texture when used later. Making duxelles is another way of preparing a mushroom in advance and utilizing otherwise discarded portions of mushrooms. To prepare marinated mushrooms, either parboil them or simmer them in the marinade liquid. Vinegar and other acidic combinations do not have the same chemical action as does heat and will not eliminate toxins. Certain helvella mushrooms should be parboiled to remove toxins and the water discarded before adding the mushrooms to other ingredients.
Using Dried Mushrooms: In using dried mushrooms, first rinse them quickly under the faucet and then place them in a bowl. Pour enough hot water over them to cover and soak for the recommended period of time for each type of mushroom. Soaking time will vary because of the different size, thickness, and shape of each variety. As a rule, this should take at least 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and squeeze them dry. Save the soaking liquid for use in your recipe since much mushroom flavor will have been released while rehydrating. Decant the soaking liquid slowly to avoid adding sediment that has settled to the bottom of the vessel.
Intensifying Flavor: Mushrooms exude liquid when sautéed in oil or butter. Many chefs prefer to cook most of the fluid off to develop the maximum intensity of the mushroom's flavor. Some recipes require browning the mushrooms to create more flavor. While doing this, constant vigilance is required to avoid burning.