cooking with mushroom

How to use mushrooms in cooking

Mushrooms can be used as a side dish or can be added to any recipe, but before you use mushrooms in cooking, you need to understand the specie and how best to handle it. Using mushrooms in cooking seems easy but one needs to be careful with it so as not to get soggy mushrooms in your food. 

Mushrooms are great seasoning in foods and they are fungi that are classified as vegetables. When you cook with mushrooms, it can easily enhance the flavour of the food as it is a natural flavour enhancer. It is not just flavourful but also very nutritious and delicious in any food that the mushrooms are cooked with.

Read also: How to Cook Yam Porridge with Vegetable

Cooking Mushroom for the first time?

You will need to carefully choose a mushroom for cooking. There are about 14,000 species of mushrooms known and some of them are poisonous to eat or lack flavour when you cook them but these types of mushrooms are great for other purposes like medicinal purposes while others are delicious and safe to eat. It is only a mushroom expert that can identify the species of mushroom that is safe to eat. 

Wild mushrooms can be very tricky, some of the poisonous types look very similar to edible mushrooms, so careful inspection is really important before using them. 

How can I identify the species of mushroom that is safe to eat?

1. Ask an expert

When in doubt about the mushroom ask an expert before using them. You should buy them in a grocery store if you cannot identify the wild mushrooms. They will have the commonly consumed mushrooms, either the expensive ones or the inexpensive ones.

2. Check for freshness.

This can be observed when you check the grills on the other side of the mushroom. The grills should be pale pink. If the grills are tightly closed it means the mushroom is very good. Although, the mushroom seems young with less flavour but would last longer. But if the grills are opened, they are very mature with intense flavour but needs to be consumed faster because they can’t stay too long once you buy them.

Types of Mushroom Suitable for Cooking

1. Common mushroom

Common mushroom is a specie that is commonly consumed by people with no ill effects and are sold everywhere most especially wild mushrooms. Wild mushrooms have more intense and interesting flavours. With just a little of them in your dish, you will feel the intense taste quickly. Examples are cremini, oyster, morel, maitake, chanterelle, shiitake, lion’s mane and some other delicious wild mushrooms.

2. Fresh mushroom

If you are choosing fresh mushrooms, make sure that they are firm, smooth, and the surface should be dry and/or slightly moist with no decay appearance of any form.

4. Dried mushroom

You can as well buy the dried mushroom and rehydrate them. These dried mushrooms must have uniform dark colours. The flesh must be clean and free from bugs infestation, check if there are no tiny holes in them. They must have a rich deep flavour when you smell them.

How to Store Your Mushroom

Once you have your mushrooms, keep them cool and dry before using them. Remove any dirt from them before storing them up and separate different species if you are having more than one. Don’t clean them yet, they should stay fresh and dry until you are ready to use them. Avoid using plastic wrap to store them. Use an open brown paper bag or a wide cardboard box to store them.

How to prepare your mushroom for cooking

1. Clean the mushroom

It is important to keep in mind that mushrooms are different from every other veggie or ingredient used for cooking and they must not be soaked in water to wash them. They absorb water quickly just like a sponge and it will never turn brown during cooking.

How can I clean my mushroom?

  • Trim the stem of the mushroom and use a clean damp cloth to clean them or a paper towel to wipe each mushroom.
  • You can also use a pairing knife to gently scrape them 
  • There is also a special mushroom brush or a paintbrush for wiping any specks of dirt from the mushroom
  • In case you have tried every of the above and there is stubborn dirt that is still clinging around it, use a little water to rinse it off. Make sure it is one mushroom at a time and don’t place it directly under the running water. Avoid soaking it and use it up immediately after rinsing to avoid decay.

2. Keep the mushroom stems

Keep the mushroom stems for some other cooking purposes. You don’t throw the leftover stems away, you can slice them or chop the stems in a food processor. They can also be added to any dish as flavour enhancers. Saute them in butter until the liquid evaporates just like you would to the mushroom cap and add it up to any dish.

3. Cut the mushroom

Slice or dice the mushroom into your desired sizes before cooking them. The dish you are planning to make with the mushroom will determine the ways and manners to cut the mushroom. You can also grind the mushroom or leave them as a whole to cook them. When cutting the mushroom, make sure you don’t cut it too thin as the mushroom will lose about 50% of its original size through cooking, it will shrink drastically.

4. Cook the mushroom

Most of the common edible species of mushroom need to be cooked while some few once can be eaten raw. They need to be thoroughly cooked for their flavour to be released. There are different methods of cooking the mushroom, the methods include sauteing, grilling, roasting and frying.

Sauteing the mushroom

Sauteing is cooking the mushroom in fat like ingredients such as butter or olive oil on low heat. You will need to cook them for a long period until the excess moisture in the mushroom is completely dried off and the two sides are golden brown. They contain a lot of water in them, they will shrink to the minimum. The texture of the cooked mushroom should be slightly crisp and not slippery and the colour is golden brown.

Note: Add salt, pepper and any other seasoning you want to add once both sides are browned, do not stir them too much and don’t overcrowd the pan

Grilling the Mushroom

Place the mushrooms on the grill pan or rack and cook until it is brown. Brush some butter or olive oil on them and grill on high heat to evaporate the excess liquid. Thread the mushroom onto a skewer on grills or use a grilling basket to grill the smaller mushroom. This will help the mushrooms not to fall off the grill rack when shrinking and it make them easily controlled on the grill for even grilling. Grill for about 10-15 minutes on medium-high heat.

Frying the mushroom

You can deep fry the mushroom into a golden brown and add it to your dish or make it as a side dish. Clean and cut into desired sizes before dip frying it. You can as well dip the mushroom as a whole to fry them.

To get a crispy mushroom, coat it in a batter that contains flour, little butter or vinegar and some seasoning like salt, black peppers and garlic (make sure you don’t overdo the seasoning part so that you don’t diminish the flavour of the mushroom). Dip fry it in oil for a few minutes. Remove from the pan, drain the excess oil in a colander and serve.

Roasting the mushroom

Roast the mushroom in medium-high heat. Preheat the oven using a temperature that is between 375 – 450 degrees. Coat them in 2-3 tablespoons olive oil before roasting, add seasonings, garlic, salt and pepper. Leave them to roast for 15-20 minutes in a large baking pan.

5. Add the mushroom to any dish

Once you are done with the mushroom preparation, you can add it as a spice to any common mushroom recipe. It will add depth of flavour to your dish. Just try it out! Very yummy.

These are some of the common mushroom recipes;

Rice or pasta sauces with mushrooms

Source: Zeelicious Foods

Mushroom sauce is easy to make and very delicious. The sauce is a great side dish for rice, pasta, yam and potatoes. It is a perfect meal for dinner or lunch.

Read also: How to cook and shred chicken fast

Mushroom toppings for pizza and toast

The mushroom pizza recipe is very yummy and it is the best addition to your pizza if you want to cut down on fat. The mushroom as toppings will make you enjoy a crispy crust and a meaty pizza.

Mushroom pepper soup

This mushroom pepper soup tastes really good and it is a great meal for vegetarians and those that want to reduce weight. It is a replacement for meat and I bet meat lovers will also love mushroom pepper soup. They are gluten-free that also contain all the essential nutrients.

Mushroom stir-fry

Try this mushroom stir-fry and you will not want to use chicken or meat for your stir-fry again. Lol. Super delicious and easy to make.

Mushroom Efo-Riro

This Nigeria vegetable stew cannot be overemphasized. A superfood that is also vegan friendly. Just imagine adding mushrooms to the Efo-riro, the taste will be heavenly. The mushrooms will enhance the flavour and make it more nutritious.

Others include;

  • Sauteed Mushroom
  • Fried rice with mushroom
  • Mushroom chicken skillet
  • Mushroom Okra soup 
  • Scrambled eggs with mushroom
  • Mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy
  • Mushroom veggie wrap
  • Garlic mushroom sauce
  • Mushroom Sausage
  • Creamy mushroom pasta
  • Creamy mushroom and spinach pasta
  • Condensed mushroom soup 

And many other mouth-watering recipes

Final Note on Mushrooms

Mushrooms are great substitutes for meat. Species like Cremini, Lion-mane, portobello and shiitake are better replacements. They are rich in taste, very flavourful and nutritious.

You need mushrooms because; they improve brain function, balances hormones, boost the immune system, improves heart health, fights inflammation, lowers blood pressure, strengthens the bones, prevents cancer, prevents diabetes, source of folate for pregnant women and helps to reduce anxiety.

What do you think about mushrooms? is it something you will love to eat or not? Please, share your thoughts with me in the comments.

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