Selecting: Look for mushrooms with a fresh, smooth appearance, free from major blemishes, with a dry (not dried) surface. A closed veil (the thin membrane under the cap) indicates a delicate flavor; an open veil means a richer flavor.
Storing: Keep mushrooms refrigerated. They're best when used within several days after purchase. Do not rinse mushrooms until ready to use. To prolong storage, for package mushrooms, leave in their tray; remove plastic wrap; completely wrap tray with paper towels. For bulk (loose) storage, place mushrooms in a porous paper bag.
Cleaning and Preparing: Gently wipe mushrooms with a damp cloth or soft brush to remove particles. Or, rinse quickly with cold water; immediately pat dry with paper towels. Never soak mushrooms; they're porous and absorb water. There is no need to peel mushrooms. The only trimming they may need is the stem end, if it's dry, or the tough stem portion of shiitakes or the root of the portabella.
If a recipe calls just for caps, twist stems loose or separate them from the caps with the tip of a knife.
For slicing and chopping mushrooms, use a sharp knife; for slicing or chopping large quantities, use a food processor with the slicing or wing blade attachment.
Equivalents: One pound of white mushrooms yields about five cups (lightly packed) sliced or chopped, or about two cups sautéed. Four ounces of trimmed shiitakes yields about 1-1/2 cups sliced or chopped. Six ounces of trimmed portabellas yields about 2-1/4 cups coarsely chopped.
Choose your texture: To begin with, the length of time a mushroom is cooked will dictate its texture. Short cooking yields a more delicately textured mushroom; longer cooking actually renders them denser and chewier (this is because the longer they cook, the more water they lose.)
Microwaving Mushrooms: Mushrooms cook extremely well in the microwave. Simply clean and cook as follows: Put eight ounces thickly sliced mushrooms in a microwaveable bowl; cover and cook on HIGH (100% power) for two to three minutes, stirring once.
sautéing Mushrooms: For each eight ounces of mushrooms, heat one tablespoon butter or oil in a large skillet. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and the released mushroom liquid has evaporated, about five minutes. Don't overcrowd skillet or mushrooms will steam rather than brown.
Roasting Mushrooms: Put mushrooms in a shallow baking pan; toss with a little oil and roast in a 450 degree F oven, stirring occasionally until brown, about 20 minutes. Use about one tablespoon of oil for each eight ounces of mushrooms.
Tip: If sliced raw mushrooms are prepared in advance, dip slices in lemon juice to preserve color.
Mushrooms have a nutritional profile perfect for today's consumer. One serving (five medium-sized white mushrooms) has only 20 calories, and is free of fat, cholesterol and sodium.
Agaricus (White Mushrooms): The most widely available mushroom variety; smooth round cap; creamy white to beige color. Sizes from small buttons to jumbos (often called "stuffers"); mild, woodsy flavor when raw, delicate when cooked. Very versatile; use in soups, sauces, stir-frys, pastas, grill or sauté for side dishes; raw with dips and salads.
Shiitake: Tan to dark brown color; umbrella-shaped caps, open veils, tan gills (gills are blade-like strips that radiate on the cap's underside); a rich, woodsy flavor and meaty texture when cooked. Classic in Oriental cooking and stir-frys; try in pastas, soups, sautéed or grilled.
Portabella: Can grow to six inches across! Larger relative of the Agaricus and crimini mushroom; flat caps are tan to dark brown; roots often left on base; meaty flavor and texture from long growing cycles; use whole or slice; great mushrooms for grilling.
Crimini: A tan to rich brown variety (also known as Italian Brown) related to the white mushroom but an earthier flavor. Use as the white mushroom or in combination with them for variety.
Oyster: Fluted, graceful oyster shell shape and delicate briny flavor. Best cooked to bring out flavor and velvety texture. Use like the white mushroom or in combination with other varieties. Perfect with seafood and in pastas.
Enoki: Creamy white and fragile with long, thin stems and tiny button caps; grown in clusters joined at the base. Mild flavor with a slightly crunchy texture. Best used raw in salads and sandwiches or as a garnish for Oriental dishes and soups.
In a large wok or skillet heat oil until hot. Add white and shiitake mushrooms; stir-fry until just softened, about 2 minutes. Add broccoli; stir-fry until nearly crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add green onions and curry powder; cook, stirring frequently, until curry is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in coconut milk, shrimp, salt and red pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through and sauce thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Serve over hot cooked rice, if desired.
Yield: 4 portions
Note: Coconut milk is usually available in most supermarkets or in Latin American or Indian food shops
Provided by the Mushroom Council
This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.
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This page modified March 2007
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