Magic with mushrooms
From sautéeing slimy wood blewits with garlic and cream to shaping tempura parasols, mycologist John Wright knows all the tricks for cooking champion champignon dishes
AY I assume you know that some mushrooms will have you spending time in a small room contemplating your folly and that 25 will cheerfully kill you? Good. All will be well. Here, I will mention only fungi that are easy to recognise; most are unmistakeable. Really.
Let us put morbid concerns aside for the moment and contemplate instead some of the many ways in which wild mushrooms may be cooked. I’ve always been a conservative when it comes to preparing fungi—
Ma quick fry-up in butter—but experimentation and the inspiration of others has shown me that a well-balanced dish can enhance, rather than mask, the flavour of these incomparable treasures. And mushrooms, being one of the umami ingredients, can enhance the flavour of an entire dish.
Although the difference in flavour between mushrooms is mostly subtle, it’s the texture that really guides the cook. They can be soft and crumbly, soft and rubbery, fibrous or a little slippery/slimy (in a good way). The slimiest of all mushrooms