Monday, November 2, 2009

Mushrooms: Chanterelle, King Oyster & Maitake

It has been quite a while since I've tried a new type of mushroom. We were in Los Angeles on Saturday and stopped by Whole Foods and got three varieties I've not had before: chanterelles, king oyster and maitake. They were all quite pricey. The chanterelles were $29.99 a pound and we got .13 pound for $3.90, consisting of three heads. They are only grown in the wild and are very textury.

A different view.

I cut them up into pieces

and fried them in butter.

WOW, what a treat. They are amazing. They have a very distinctive, deep taste. They are firm, but tender. I have read they have a pepper taste to them, and I guess they do, a little bit, but the taste is more complex than pepper. Judy sensed almost a vinegary, beefy taste, with a texture very unlike ordinary mushrooms. They are definately on the buy list again.

The king oyster mushrooms were $19.99 a pound and we got three that were .32 pounds for $6.40. They had a very light, rubbery feel to them, and almost seemed like a cartoon version of a mushroom, with the small cap and large bulbous stem.

They are native to the Mediterranean, but are also now grown commercially.

I cooked them in butter, garlic and a little olive oil. They are much more like the traditional white oyster texture and they kind of take on the taste of whatever they are cooked in. They were good, quite good actually, but did not hold a candle to the chanterelles.

The maitake mushroom, native to northeastern Japan and the northeastern United States, are also known as hen of the woods, ram's head and sheep's head mushrooms. They are very interesting looking, almost like a nicely carved Bernini sculpture. They are full of leaf like structures with twists and turns.

Another view with a different look to it.

They were also expensive, $29.99 a pound. We got .17 pounds for $5.10. It was our least favorite of the three, by far. I also cooked it in a mixture of butter, garlic and olive oil. I may not have cooked it enough, but I think it is just naturally harder and more rubbery. The texture is not as nice and it was not as pleasing. I suspect it might be much better cooked in a different way, like a Japanese soup.

This was definately a worthwhile taste test and chanterelles are on my radar. I would like to try them in many kinds of dishes. I read that they hold up well and stand out taste-wise, even in meat and other dishes.


  1. I would say those chanterelles are about the best thing on the planet. They were AMAZING. No rubbery mushroom texture at all. I would not have guessed they were mushrooms if I hadn't known beforehand that they were. I think even someone who hates mushrooms would love these.

  2. I'm so glad that you liked the chanterelles! Next on your mushroom list should be morel, lobster (not the crustacean), puff ball, many to choose from... You guys need a bay area trip...

  3. I am a farmer at heart but live in the suburbs. growing these would make this inner farmer very happy.

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