Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lobster Mushrooms Two Ways

Lobster mushrooms are the story of a special bond. A relationship between two fungi joined together, growing with cells intertwined. Edible, but not choice, Russala and Lactarious species are parasitized by Hypomyces lactifluorum and transformed into a delicious beautiful mushroom.

Lobster mushrooms are characterized by their bright orange-red skin, flower-like shapes and firm nutty flesh. The skin really is as bright as a cooked lobster and the scent is even reminiscent of shellfish's nutty rich seaward aroma. Lobsters are a versatile mushroom lending well to simple sauteing or roasting and its firm flesh also holds up well in longer cooking preparations like braising.

Lobster mushrooms often grow pushing up through the first layer of needles and decaying leaves, embedding their tops with dirt and debris. The best way to clean is to rinse in water and use a pairing knife to scrape away any dirt set in the cap. The flesh is dense and firm and barely soaks up any extra moisture from washing.

Both of these recipes are super quick and easy and can be served warm, room temp, or cold. They are also nice to make in bulk for a few days of ready-to-go, prepared dishes to eat with rice or noodles.

Lobster mushrooms roasted with zucchini, cherry tomatoes and cumin seeds

1 medium lobster mushroom, about 1/3 pound, cleaned and cut in 1/2 inch dice
1 medium zucchini, about 1/3 pound, cut in ½ inch dice
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
large pinch curry powder
2 dashes soy sauce
½ pt cherry tomatoes

Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a small baking pan (9” by 9”) toss all ingredients together except cherry tomatoes. Bake for about 25 minutes, until vegetables begin to brown, stirring occasionally. Depending on the moisture content of the vegetables this could take a bit longer. Add cherry tomatoes and bake for 5 more minutes.

Japanese-style simmered lobster mushrooms

This recipe would work well with almost any mushroom.

½ pound lobster mushrooms, cleaned and sliced into ¼ inch thick pieces
2-3 shallots or a small onion, sliced thick
2 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp sake
2 tbsp mirin
2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Heat sesame oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add shallots or onions and saute for 2 minutes. Add lobsters and saute for one more. Stir in sake, mirin, and soy. Turn up heat a bit and bring to a simmer. Turn down and simmer for about 8 minutes until mushrooms are tender and liquid has reduced a bit. Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds.

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