Don’t you agree white button mushrooms are boring and overrated? Botanical name, agaricus bisporus, button mushrooms are grown almost all over the world and are consumed by millions of people on a daily basis. Did you know that there are about 14,000 species of mushrooms out of which only 3,000 are edible? 700 are said to have medicinal properties as well. Here’s a closer look at various other varieties of fungi, you might spot some in your grocery store:
1. Shiitake – the hero of your health – Reduces blood cholesterol levels, prevents premature aging, boosts your immunity system, stops tooth decay and also has anticancer properties, this type is a must in your meals. They easily fight off diseases and infection. If using fresh shiitake, do not use too much water as they tend to become soggy. However, if you are using the dried kind, soak it in water for 30 minutes to get its distinct smoky flavour. They work best in stir-fries and can be sautéed, baked or broiled as well. It adds a meaty flavour and texture to any preparation; they work as a great substitute for most of your meat dishes. Traditionally added to miso soup, they add aroma and extra flavours to any soup. Or add shiitake to give depth to your vegetable stock. Native to Japan, China and Korea, they can be grown in the hilly parts of any region. These type of mushrooms cost about 2000 rupees per kg.
2. Robust oyster mushroom: These mushrooms grow on the bark of the trees in the wild shortly after the rains. They should be compulsorily consumed by the ones suffering from obesity, heart problem and diabetes. These mushrooms stop the proliferation of cancerous cells. Moreover, if you are trying to quit smoking, these mushrooms become a must in your diet plan. Native to Japan and China, these mushrooms are widely cultivated and used in Kerala. Frequently used in soups, stuffed, stir-fried, they have a mild fragrance similar to anise. They are delicate, tender and quick to cook and add character to light cream sauce.
3. Crunchy bite with Enokitake – Grows in long clusters of string-like stems with small white caps, enokitake has a mild flavour and a texture that is somewhat crunchy. Makes a good addition to salads, soups, meat dishes and as a garnish. However, the spongy base should be removed before using. Also known as the ‘snow puff’ and ‘velvet foot’. They are perfect in soups and salads. They have a significant immune enhancing and anticancer properties.
4.King of mushrooms - Morel: Looks like shriveled dates, these mushrooms may not have good looks like other mushrooms, but are known to have the best nutritional benefits. Currently are a hot favourite among most chefs, morels are the gourmet ingredient of the moment. They have a nut-like taste with a crisp, chewy texture that makes it a good choice for light cream sauces, pastas and egg dishes. They are sure to make up for the bland taste in risotto. Be careful while picking morels as the bad quality can sometimes be toxic.
5. Pretty Chanterelle: Frilly trumpet shaped mushroom, chanterelle is prized for fruity aroma, similar to apricots. When cooked it tastes slightly peppery. Its firm flesh takes longer to cook than other fungi. Before cooking, rinse carefully under running water and shake dry. Rich in flavor with a distinctive taste and aroma difficult to notice, they are highly prized both in restaurants and specialty stores. Include them in creamy sauces, soufflés and soups.
Buying and storing
Cultivated mushrooms should be firm, without spots or bruises.
Choose only those which are extremely fresh, white and crisp.
The colour of the flesh should be uniform.
Store for a few days (if you have to) only in a cool, well-ventilated place.
Do not buy or consume wild variety of mushroom unless an expert has checked them as some species are toxic raw, but edible after cooking.
Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.