BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Posts Tagged ‘wild mushrooms

Myopic about Mushrooms

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It looked like a Bolete (porcini), it smelled like a Bolete, but I’m not expert enough to be certain so I won’t eat it. There’s too much potential for error given the 100-some Boletes out there. Black trumpets, however, I can confidently identify. NOTE to readers: I can’t identify this mushroom. CONSULT AN EXPERT BEFORE CONSUMING. Thought I found Chanterelles too, but they were smaller than ones from Pacific Northwest. I’ve lost my confidence.

I’ve decided wild mushroom foraging will be the new foodie thing I throw myself into here in Maine. Many species seem to thrive in the damp, pine needle-carpeted forests here, and I’m eager to learn more about them. I’ve got black trumpets down. They’re easy to identify as long as you keep looking down, as “Mushroom Maineiac” David Spahr advises. Here, they spring up next to green moss and bright pine seedings.

We just settled on truffled eggs with the few black trumpets I found. My Dad is a master in the kitchen! He swears by the more affordable white truffle oil from Micucci’s in Portland.

Now, I’m in hot pursuit on a hike. I understand how hunters and fisherman feel. Even if you have to throw your catch back, there’s still the thrill of that “aha!” moment of discovery. I had that in the woods yesterday, chancing upon what I thought were small Chanterelles and a big Bolete that sure looks like a Porcini. We consulted friends and David Spahr’s book. I had been inspired by a display at this weekend’s MOFGA Common Ground Fair. In some ways, the more I read, the more pictures I viewed, the more doubt crept in. It just isn’t worth the risk unless you’re sure. I’ll think about joining the Maine Mycological Association and going out in the company of experts soon. The nearby Long Branch School in Bowdoinham organizes monthly forays. Trouble is, you get the most bang for your wild mushroom buck if you go out on a secret mission, and lose yourself in the woods alone.

The harvest I’m abandoning due to lack of certainty. One is at least definitely a Chanterelle but the uncertainty about the lot has made me lose interest. Also found coral mushrooms we could eat, but they aren’t culinary gems and can have a laxative effect on some folks.

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Chinese-Thai Chanterelle Stir-Fry

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Improvised stir-fry with chanterelles, carrots, tomato, beet greens and fresh banana peppers, with Thai basil, Shaoxing wine, soy, honey, a splash of fish sauce--surprisingly good. Lots of minced garlic and ginger sauteed in oiled wok first.

 

 

It's prime chanterelle season! The wet weather yielded a good harvest. One of the bright spots of fall!

 

We’ve got such meaty fresh chanterelles at markets this season, I can’t find enough ways to use them. My default recipe is Ivy Manning’s whole wheat pasta with chanterelles, which always appeals. I’ll have to also check out this salad recipe of hers. Then we’ve topped pizza with sauteed chanterelles and slip them into tomato pasta sauce. But I’d never tried them in an Asian stir-fry, until tonight.

Sauteed chanterelles cook down into velvety morsels with concentrated flavor. They’re so much more dense and complex than the shiitakes I usually use in stir-fry. For this impromptu dish, we began with hot peanut oil in the wok, in which we quick-fried some minced ginger in garlic. Then in went the cleaned and sliced chanterelles, then the carrots, then some salt, then after they fried a bit, some Shaoxing wine to deglaze the pan. Then we added chunks of a whole fresh tomato, which cooked down into a sauce, and fresh banana pepper and finally some wilted beet and turnip greens long neglected in the fridge. And pieces torn from a bunch of browning Thai basil, which reminded me to later add a splash of fish sauce. As it cooked, I splashed on a drop of sesame oil, light soy sauce and honey. Just before turning off the wok, we mixed in some day-old Basmatic rice. It was a Chinese-Thai fusion dish, which isn’t uncommon. At our local Thai restaurant, Dan likes to order “drunken noodles,” which is basically stir-fried broad-cut Chinese noodles or chao fan.

Any other suggestions of what to do with chanterelles before this fleeting season runs out? I’d love to go foraging again sometime. But I’ve lost some motivation since they’ve been relatively inexpensive at the market, often less than $10 a pound.

 

Ivy Manning's whole wheat pasta with chanterelles, from her beautiful Farm to Table cookbook.

 

Written by baltimoregon

October 14, 2010 at 11:48 pm

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