SHOPPING FOR FRESH MUSHROOMS
There is nothing in the world of cuisine that even remotely tantalizes our palettes like the unique flavor of wild mushrooms. When I think of cepes (porcini), chantrelles, morels and shiitakes, I forget about all other foods. These days, due to their popularity, mushrooms such as portobellos and shitakes are available year round, as they are grown in controlled climates. Most other wild mushrooms, like oyster, lobster, and trumpets are available only seasonally.
Wild mushrooms are extremely versatile as they complement a wide range of meats, seafoods and salads and blend harmoniously with garlic, onions, bell peppers and almost all green vegetables. Be adventurous, ask the greengrocer about the characteristics of mushrooms you are unfamiliar with and buy what’s available when they are available and experiment and have fun.
Wild mushrooms are extremely delicate and have a shelf life of only 2-3 days, even when refrigerated. A quick sauté is generally the best method for preparation. Wild mushrooms should never be plunged in water, rather they should be gently brushed or wiped with a damp paper towel. The price of wild mushrooms can often cause sticker shock but for a dinner for four, you only need 5-6 ounces to flavor a dish. Happy Mushrooming!