Cooking with Mushrooms 101

Mushrooms, as we all know, are a fungus. They grow in many shapes, sizes, and colors and each one has its own flavor. They can be purchased either fresh, dried (dry with a food dehydrator), jarred, or canned (open with can opener). They have their own texture and can add so much to a dish.

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Beech Mushrooms: These are small and have either all white, or all brown caps on them. They are slightly crunchy, with a sweet, nutty flavor. These work great in stir-fries and sauces that are going to be poured over poultry or fish. Always add these at the end of cooking to keep some crunch to them, they cook really fast.

Chanterelle Mushrooms: These are best if you use them in simple recipes. They do not have a huge flavor, but do have a slightly buttery hint. They look kind of like a trumpet and are bright yellow or orange.

Cremini Mushrooms: These are tan to dark brown and can be used in any recipe that calls for them or white mushrooms. These are similar to white mushrooms in taste but have a little more of an earthy flavor.

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Enoki Mushrooms: These are soft white. They are long with thin stems and tiny caps. They are typically vacuum packed and carry a light crunch. They are great as soup or salad toppers.

Morel Mushrooms: These are great for sauces and many gourmet recipes. They are tan, black or yellow. They have a spongy texture with an intense nutty flavor. They are fairly expensive. They do come in dried form.

Oyster Mushrooms: These come in many different colors that range from cream to gray. They also come in many different sizes. They have a soft texture and a mild flavor. They work great with poultry, veal, and seafood dishes.

Porcini Mushrooms: These are also known as cepes. They are pale brown and are grown wild. They are sold fresh and dried, but dried is more common. They have a strong woodsy flavor and are great in soups and pasta sauces.

Portobello Mushrooms: These have a heartiness and meatiness. They work great in vegetarian recipes. They are great grilled and come in various sizes. They have a deep mushroom flavor.

Shiitake Mushrooms: These are favored in Chinese cooking. They have a rich meatiness and different texture. They are great in pasta dishes and soups. The stems are known to be woody and gritty so only use the caps. See: Chinese Cookbooks and Wok Cookbooks

White Mushrooms: These are a good mushroom for anything. They have a slightly woodsy flavor. They can be eaten raw on salads, sauteed, grilled, soups, stews, pasta sauces, and many more dishes. They are typically white to light brown in color. Many call these button mushrooms.

Wood ear Mushrooms: These are typically used in Asian stir-fries. They have a soft, yet crunchy texture. They are typically found dry and must be rehydrate before use. See: electric woks!

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