Oyster mushrooms are frequently available in groceries and markets these days. They seem so pristine, so white, so potentially tasteless. However, they are tremendous flavor vehicles that can deliver a wonderful mouthful of earthiness and all the flavorings you choose to add on such as garlic, oil, salt, pepper, chilli, fresh herbs, etc. At the market the other day I spied plastic bags of oyster mushrooms (you can find some live shrooms at Gil Carandangâ€™s table at Salcedo Market, and the cut version all over the city) and this first photo shows how you can actually grow them at home. Donâ€™t they just look superb? At any rate oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) are so named because they look a bit like oysters and when cooked have that semi-slimy texture. This mushroom is frequently found in forests on tree trunks and wooden posts on farms but they are also cultivated in mushroom farms in sterilized mediums.
Oyster mushrooms come in a wide range of colors such as jonquil yellow, salmon, pink, tan and even grey in additional to the creamy white ones featured here. The pale cream ones are the easiest to grow and perhaps the reason they are the most commonly sold in stores. The oysters by themselves can lack flavor but they are an excellent foil for other flavors. I once grew several bags of these oysters and was totally bowled over by how stunning they looked up closeâ€¦ sculptural, beautiful. I enclosed the bags in a hemp like material (to simulate sacks) and put them as centerpieces on a table. We could have even cut them right off fresh and eaten them along with salad greens treated the same wayâ€¦kinda organic and hokey, no? At any rate after a few days the mushrooms can get a bit smelly when they mature. Eat them young. I got about three crops of mushrooms from each bagâ€¦
Our favorite recipe at home is one that my wife has perfected. Clean the mushrooms of any visible dirt. Cut off most of the stem and brush the gills with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and sprinkle with very finely chopped garlic and perhaps some dried oregano and basil. Place them all on a pan and bake in a hot oven for 10-14 minutes until slightly golden brown. Sprinkle them with finely chopped Italian parsely. Serve hot with sliced French bread on the side. Prepare a lot of mushrooms if you have a crowd as they tend to shrink a lot. Most guests will be surprised how tasty and delicious these are. This is an excellent appetizer to have with a cold beer or other cocktail!