Monday, June 8, 2009

Mushrooms: Portobello, Shiitake & Crimini

In an attempt to better understand Andrew's love for mushrooms I had my second mushroom experiment. The first time I used wood ear and oyster mushrooms. This time I used portobello, shiitake and crimini mushrooms that I purchased from Whole Foods in Westwood during a visit to see Andrew.

The portobellos were the largest and the thickest mushrooms. I pulled off the stems and ate them raw. I did not particularly like them and would not use them raw in a salad or otherwise. They were fairly hard and stringy. Andrew, on the other hand, says the raw portobello stems are his favorite part. But he also only likes his mushrooms raw. I can eat them raw, but much prefer them cooked. Below, the portobellos, gill side up.

They are very large and pretty solid, as opposed to spongy. The same portobellos top-of-the-cap side up. I don't recall ever eating them before.

The shiitake mushrooms were not as wide and also not anywhere as thick. They were also much more pliable and spongy. I ate the stems and did not like them at all. They were rubbery and less crunchy and I did not enjoy the taste. Below, the shiitakes gill side up.

The shiitakes from the top-of-the-cap.

I learned that the crimini mushrooms are baby portobellos and are sometimes called baby bellas. They were very good raw and would be excellent in a salad. They have a much stronger and more earthy taste than traditional white cap mushrooms.

I chopped up some asparagus and cut the kernals off of several ears of white corn and put them in a frying pan with olive oil. I then added chopped up portobello, shiitake and crimini mushrooms after the corn and asparagus had cooked awhile.

The portobellos in the mixture were pretty amazing. They were thick, very juicy, and had a deep rich, woody flavor. The shiitake were very juicy, lost the rubberiness they had when raw and were very good. The taste was not earthy and it was not as rich, so in comparison, was behind the portobello, but was still very good. The crimini taste like earthy whitecaps. The mixture was way more than I could eat at one sitting and it was still good several days later, heated up.

I also baked one each of the portobellos and shiitakes and several of the crimini mushrooms in the oven. I preheated the oven to 425 degrees and placed the mushrooms gill side up on the pan. I had coated them with olive oil and some salt. I baked them for 25 minutes. Then I pulled them out of the oven and placed grated white cheddar on half of each portobello and shiitake and on several criminis. I baked them an additional 10 minutes. The portobello below.

The shiitake.
What I said about the fried portobello and shiitake mushrooms held true for the baked ones. I now understand why you sometimes see portobello mushroom burgers. They are large, thick, very juicy and have a meaty texture and taste. I'm wondering why I have not had them on my radar before.

The baked crimini suffered in the oven from baking too long, as I had them in the same amount of time as the larger mushrooms. They were still okay, but were not quite as juicy and they were a little more spongy. I'm sure that if I had cooked them a shorter time they would have been very good.

I have now tried five different types of mushrooms. Out of those five, I would probably only buy the crimini and the portobellos again, at least for this type of cooking. However, the portobellos are a real discovery for me and I look forward to them again.


  1. I am glad that you have discovered mushrooms and enjoyed most of them! I meet alot of people who have never really tried them, but claim they don't like them.
    I am with you on the portabellas and criminis, I could eat these just plain sauteed. Shiitakes on the other hand, I often use in cream based sauces for on chicken and pork because they have a wonderful strong flavour and delicate texture, same goes for oyster mushrooms!
    Thanks for sharing your experience, and I hope that you and Andrew continue to enjoy fresh mushrooms!
    - Brittany

  2. Ooooh, we should come up with some fun portabello recipes!

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