Fantastic Fungi: How to Cook with Mushrooms

A variety of dried and fresh mushrooms.
Let dried mushrooms whet your appetite.
From earth-to-table, mushrooms offer rich flavor profiles to many dishes.

Ah, the mushroom—the oft mistreated and unwelcomed guest at the dining table, on a pizza or in a hotdish. Can we agree that the Rodney Dangerfield of the ingredient set really deserves some respect?

Bottled or canned mushrooms have long had their spots on grocers’ shelves, but traveling along the produce section at Lunds & Byerlys, shoppers also can find varieties of dried mushrooms, all angling for a chance to take the spotlight in your recipe repertoire.

Amy Goetz, FoodE Expert with Lunds & Byerlys, shares insight into some of the varieties available at its Twin Cities stores. “All dried mushrooms have a deeper, richer flavor than their fresh counterparts,” she says. Goetz explains flavor profiles and suggests cooking ideas:

Dried

Chanterelle: Highly prized for their flavor, which is fruity and nutty, with some peppery notes; use with salmon, chicken or in pasta dishes. Grind up dried chanterelles to add a concentrated umami boost to any savory dish.

Lobster: Named for its reddish-orange color, with a deep, earthy flavor. The color is eye-catching added to a risotto or fettuccine Alfredo.

Oyster: Delicate and mild, use them in Asian dishes, and they’re great in stir-fry.

Porcini: Meaty and nutty, they boast a true mushroom flavor. Add them to broths, sauces, stews or lamb dishes.

Portobello: Their rich, meaty flavor is ideal with beef, in stews and soups, and as a good vegetarian substitute.

Shiitake: Meaty and a little smoky, they are best used in Asian dishes.

Stir-fry mix: This can be used as a substitute for meat in stir-fry dishes or hearty stews.

Wood Ear: Even with a grassy and woody fragrance, they don’t have a strong flavor. Popular in Asian dishes, they add texture, which can be firm and chewy.

(To prepare the mushrooms, rinse and soak them in room temperature water to rid them of any grit and debris.)

Fresh

White: They feature a mild flavor, especially when used raw for salads. They’re perfect to add a little flavor to stews, soups and pizzas, if you want the flavor, but don’t want it to be the star of the show.

Baby Bella: The younger counterpart to the portobello, this mushroom is rich and meaty, perfect for bringing that fifth category of taste, umami, out in dishes. For a fabulous au jus, place them under any beef roast, along with carrots, celery, onion and thyme. If you have any left over, make a soup out of this, along with some of the roast.

Portobello: Like baby bella mushrooms, portobellos are rich and meaty. Use them whole. Toss with olive oil, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper, and toss them on the grill or sauté them in a pan. They can be used as a vegetable-forward substitute for a burger or as the base for a layered dish, topped with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil.

Shiitake: Woodsy and rich, shiitake mushrooms are perfect for stir-fries, soups and hearty proteins, including lamb. Make a simple, soul-satisfying soup of miso with sliced shiitake mushrooms, scallions, fresh ginger and garlic.

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