03 Jun2005

There are a few amazing food finds that make the hair on the back of your neck rise and your fingers tingle…a bowl of spectacularly fresh and enormous morels are one of those finds. shroom1At the Union Square Market, the mushroom selection was mouth-watering. This bowl of morels was spied at 7:30 am, just a little after opening, so I can’t imagine they lasted much longer than another half hour. They didn’t fit in with the menu we were shopping for that day so we didn’t buy any but they were stunning nonetheless! Morels are unique in that they don’t have a typical “cap” on a stem, instead they have a tall body that has lots of grooves in it, like a natural sponge or head of corral. The American morels tend to be noticeably bigger than their European cousins. These specimens were picked from the wild and the provedore was explaining to another customer that you have to pinpoint an area where they grow and keep checking it every year to harvest the highly sought after mushrooms. They should always be eaten cooked and they are absolutely delicious.

Another vendor at the market had an impressive array of shroom2cultivated mushrooms which included these shiitake mushrooms, clumps of oyster mushrooms and medium sized portobellos. The shiitakes and even the oyster mushrooms are great in Asian style stir fries or I like to bake the oysters with oil, garlic, salt and pepper as an appetizer. The portobellos grill up nicely and are often used as a vegetarian alternative to meat. Frankly, I like my meat but grilled portobellos are delicious served as part of an antipasto platter or as a sidedish.

Finally, a huge basket filled with just the right sized creminis, shroom3which are actually just juvenile portobellos and also very closely related to button or white mushrooms. The color and consistency are what separates this mushroom from the basic white button mushrooms you would buy in the supermarket. I have consulted several sources but can’t figure out if there is any story behind their name… some people think the name was just made up. What was really nice about all of these mushrooms on offer at the Union Square market was that they were really quite dry to the touch. Picking mushrooms in moist conditions can mean storage problems (they spoil faster) and less flavor when you cook. If you notice our white mushrooms in Manila often tend to be incredibly watery…



  1. virgilio p. castillo says:

    Baked oyster mushrooms? Sounds yummy to me. Do you mind sharing your recipe with me? Oyster mushroom soup is so far the only recipe I know for this mushroom. Using olive oil I would sautee ginger, garlic, red onions, pepper, dash of salt or fish sauce, then add water and when it boils add the oyster mushrooms, and let boil some more with chopped parsley. Baked oyster mushroom would be a big change! Thanks.

    Jun 3, 2005 | 5:25 pm


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  3. Marketman says:

    Virgilio, here is the easiest baked oyster mushroom recipe yet… Just lay the oyster mushrooms flat on a baking pan. Heat oven to about 375 or 400 degrees (hot), then mince some garlic and sprinkle over mushrooms, drizzle with good olive oil, and generously salt and pepper and pop in oven for about 8-12 minutes or until they are cooked to your liking. The mushrooms will shrink a lot. Serve with crusty slice french bread or crostini. If you want to get fancy, sprinkle with chopped Italian parsley. Enjoy!

    Jun 3, 2005 | 6:16 pm

  4. PauloNav says:

    In cooking class we soaked some dried morrel mushrooms in warm water and used the mushroom stock to make our mushroom risotto! Fantastic! The aroma is just something else…

    Jun 4, 2005 | 1:54 pm

  5. stef says:

    what i love about morels is that they’re not that difficult to find in the wild, all over the US — talk about free and yummy food! my dream is to go foraging with wildman steve brill one day.

    Jun 5, 2005 | 9:06 am

  6. floyd says:

    I just want to know the ways on how to cultivate edible mushrooms,can you help me?

    Apr 16, 2006 | 8:14 pm

  7. Marketman says:

    floyd, sorry I can’t be of much help as I don’t know much about growing mushrooms. I hope other readers will chime in if they see your question…

    Apr 17, 2006 | 1:42 pm


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