Sizzling Mushroom Flavors – includes recipes – Brief Article

Mushroom consumption is mushrooming. Americans devoured more than 860 million pounds of these fresh and delicious fungi last year–triple the amount consumed 20 years ago.

Though the familiar white mushroom remains the hands-down favorite–by a margin of about 9 to 1–varieties such as portabella and shiitake are catching on. Cultivated on farms, these so-called “specialty mushrooms” are now available year-round. Whether used alone or combined in small quantities with the more economical whites, the specialties add a touch of sophistication.

Spices, herbs and seasoning blends help bring out the best in any mushroom variety. Mushrooms develop an especially delicious taste when brushed with a well-seasoned sauce just before grilling, broiling or roasting. For instance, mushroom-filled skewers can be brushed with a satay mixture including peanut butter, garlic, ground cumin and red pepper flakes; or seasoned, like Korean bulgogi, with sesame oil, garlicc and sesame seeds. With their dense texture and meaty flavor, portabellas and their baby cousins, crimini, take well to marinades with assertive seasonings such as garlic, rosemary and thyme.

Another good idea: Blanch whole or quartered mushrooms before immersing them in a vinegar-based marinade with the vibrant flavors of tarragon or dill, garlic and mustard seeds. Mushrooms pickled in this way can serve as cocktail hour nibbles, perk up a pasta sauce or add an exciting touch to a time-worn favorite such as chicken cacciatore.

White mushrooms make a great addition to charred beef and vegetables in a tamari-ginger-sesame sauce. In fact, mushrooms will blend beautifully into almost any stir fry or saute, along with a well-chosen seasoning such as lemon pepper or oregano.

A rich, earthy flavor emerges when pork tenderloin chunks, shiitake and portabellas are simmered in broth fragrant with thyme leaves and freshly ground black pepper. For a quick trip to Morocco, combine white mushrooms with cumin, cinnamon, salt and black pepper, and serve over couscous. Dry roasting spices and other seasonings such as cardamom, fennel, cumin and chilies–a standard Indian practice–will result in curried mushrooms with more intense flavor.

Mushrooms can help product developers meet the challenge of making a robustly flavored vegetarian broth or base. An innovative blend of seasonings makes a positive difference, too. Give the broth a classic French treatment by adding thyme, chervil, juniper berries, black peppercorns, garlic cloves and bay leaves. Or, for a mushroom broth with a Southeast Asian profile, choose lemongrass, ginger, coriander and chilies.

How to make pizza or pasta that stands out from the competition? One answer: a well-seasoned topping or sauce made with mushrooms. An ordinary tomato-based pasta sauce takes on “al diavolo” flair with the addition of mushrooms seasoned with garlic, black pepper and crushed red pepper. Similarly, ordinary pizza goes gourmet when crowned with a thyme-scented medley of shiitake, crimini and white mushrooms.


Herb Mixed Mushrooms and Pork

1 lb fresh portabellas, shiitake and/or white mushrooms

3 tbsp vegetable oil, divided

1 lb pork tenderloin, cut in 2-inch pieces

2 large red and/or yellow peppers, cut in 2-inch pieces

1 medium onion, cut in 1-inch pieces

2 tsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves, crushed

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

3/4 cup dry white wine or water

Trim and cut portabellas in large pieces. Remove shiitake stems and cut caps in halves. Cut white mushrooms in halves; reserve for later use. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tbsp of the oil until hot. Add pork; cook, stirring frequently, until it loses its pink color, 8 to 9 minutes. Remove to plate and keep warm.

In the same skillet, heat remaining 1 tbsp oil; add peppers, onion and prepared mushrooms; cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine cornstarch, thyme, and the salt and pepper with 3/4 cup water; stir into mushroom mixture along with the wine. Cook uncovered, stirring often, until sauce is clear and slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Return pork to skillet; heat only until hot. If desired, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve over noodles.

Yield: 4 servings Per portion: 338 calories, 27 g protein, 16 g fat, 13 g carbohydrate


Korean-Style Fresh Mushroom and Scallion Skewers

12 oz fresh white mushrooms

2 bunches large (about 10) scallions (green onions)

2 medium-sized yellow and/or green bell peppers

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp dark Asian sesame oil

4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 4 tsp)

2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted, divided

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Trim mushroom stems; cut in 1/2-inch thick slices. Cut white parts of scallions into 1-1/2 inch pieces. Trim and finely chop enough scallion greens to make 1/4 cup; set aside for later use. Cut bell peppers in 1-1/2 inch squares. Thread mushrooms onto skewers so they will lie flat on the grill, alternating with scallion whites and bell pepper squares, threaded crosswise. Arrange skewers in a snug-fitting baking dish.

To prepare marinade: In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sugar, oil, garlic, 1 tbsp of the sesame seeds and the black pepper. Pour marinade over skewers; turn to coat all sides. Cover and marinate 30 minutes or up to 2 hours, turning once. Preheat grill or broiler to high. Place skewers on a rack; grill or broil, brushing often with marinade, until mushrooms are tender and vegetables are browned, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Sprinkle with reserved chopped scallion greens and 1 tbsp sesame seeds. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Yield: 4 to 6 portions

Per portion: 125 calories, 4 g protein, 5 g fat, 19 g carbohydrate.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Cahners Publishing Company

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group

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