Continuing on the mushroom theme, this seems like the appropriate time to feature these small Portobello (Agaricus bisporus) mushrooms that I purchased from Fresh Field at Market!Market! last weekend. Edwin the proprietor has been texting me for weeks telling me he had portobellos on the weekends so I finally got some last weekend. Yum. Portobellos have received so much attention in Western (particularly U.S.) recipes in the past ten years. What are they? Believe it or not, Portobellos are just large (ideally 4-6 inch diameter) Cremini mushrooms which in turn are just a large brown variety of the really commonly available white button mushrooms. Portobellos have a more impressive flavor than the white mushrooms precisely because they are larger, older and more mature. I love the gills under the cap of the mushroom that remind be of the insides of wall airconditionersâ€¦ These are also known as â€œportabellaâ€ mushrooms and despite the name, they are not Italian but the marketing creation of an American mushroom farm (or so Jack Czarnecki suggests in his book Portobello)â€¦
Sliced portabellos are superb on pizzas and large whole portabellos are terrific grilled and served in a bun with caramelized onionsâ€¦ a meatless burger as it were. This is the most distinct trait of portobellos â€“ their meatiness. They are more substantial and their mouth feel screams animal instead of fungus. These are also good grilled and served with a balsamic vinaigrette. Grilled portobellos with some strong cheese like gorgonzola are also really deliciousâ€¦ A small pack of portobellos at Fresh Field was just PHP100. I saw similar quality mushrooms at a specialty food store in Makati and they were asking over PHP400 for the same amount! I am thrilled that the produce choices in Manila are expanding by the week! Bravo to the growers, importers, distributors and retailers!