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All about mushrooms
High in fibre and vitamins, mushrooms are a healthy way to add flavour to your cooking.
The taste of mushroom is unique, and can be described as earthy and umami. From big, juicy portobellos, to long, stringy enokis, the varieties of mushrooms are bountiful. Though it is neither meat nor vegetable, these flavourful fungus are often considered “meat” in vegetable-based dishes due to its fleshiness. Mushroom is an extremely versatile ingredient, and it’s often used in Chinese, Korean, Japanese and European cuisines. Whether served sautéed, deep fried, braised or grilled, its distinctive flavour will add an interesting dimension to dishes.
1. Golden Enoki
A traditional ingredient in Japanese sukiyaki, golden enoki mushrooms, which are also called golden needles, referencing its colour and shape, have a chewy to crunchy texture and a pleasant fruity, piquant flavour. It goes well with a variety of dishes including soba noodles, soups, hot pots, stir-fried vegetables and more.
2. Baby Oyster
Unlike other mushrooms, baby oyster mushrooms, which feature a mild and delicately earthy flavour, are cultivated on agro-waste (recycled agricultural food sources) in spawns filled with rice, grains, straw, wheat, millet, maize and cotton that serve as the mushrooms’ food and protein source. These mushrooms pair well with Asian vegetables, seafood, tofu and white meats.
3. White Shimeji
Also known as white beech mushrooms, white shimeji mushrooms are actually very similar to brown shimeji mushrooms. The only difference between both is the colour – the white variant features smooth, ivory coloured caps.
Featuring long, slender white stems with tiny, firm caps, enoki mushrooms offer a mild delicate flavour that is complimented by a slight crunch. The texture is tender yet firm with a crunchy bite. Commonly used in Asian cuisine, enoki mushrooms pair well with soups, salads, stir-fries and noodle dishes.
5. Brown Shimeji
The third most popular mushroom in Japan, after shiitake and enoki, shimeji mushrooms are also called beech mushrooms because they often grow on fallen beech trees. Featuring a white base and speckled brown caps, these dainty looking mushrooms surprisingly do not have an aroma. But once cooked, its texture is smooth and crunchy – best paired with noodles.
6. King Oyster
An extremely versatile mushroom, oysters are easy to cultivate and common all over the world. Often used in Japanese and Chinese dishes, these wide and fleshy mushrooms are not only well-loved for its delicate, mild flavour, but also its velvety texture – in fact, its unique texture makes it a great compliment to chicken, seafood and pork.
Available in fresh and dried form, Shiitake mushrooms are often used in Asian cuisine because of its health-promoting properties. These mushrooms are best identified by their caps, which are broad and flat, and feature a soft and spongy texture. The stems, on the other hand, are tough and woody, but they add a nice earthy flavour to soups and stocks.
8. White Button
Featuring smooth rounded caps and short truncated stems that are white in colour, white button mushrooms possess a mild, earthy flavour and can be eaten either raw or cooked. Though their flavour is pleasantly subtle when raw, it deepens nicely as they are cooked. White buttons are best served in soups, salads and pizzas.
Commonly used in Italian cooking, portobello, which features a large, rounded, earthen tan flat cap with dark gills on its underside, is a rich flavoured and meaty textured mushroom that lends depth to sauces and pastas. The rich, earthy flavour and robust juices of portobellos also make them the perfect substitute for meat in sandwiches, on pizzas and in casseroles. Portobellos are also delicious when broiled, sautéed, or grilled.
One of the most commonly cultivated edible mushrooms in the world, the oyster mushroom is flappy, oddly shaped, and identified by its gills. Due to its thin shape, it is slightly easier to cook it evenly compared to other mushrooms. Oftentimes in Chinese cuisine, chefs simply tear the cap into pieces before stir-frying in woks. Versatile and slightly sweet, the mushroom is said to smell and taste like oysters too.
As its name suggests, the abalone mushroom, which is actually an oyster mushroom variety, bears striking similarities to the aquatic shellfish, abalone, such as similar shape and colour. Featuring ivory white skin with golden lines and perforations found throughout its surface, its flesh is crispy, dense and spongy with an earthy, buttery flavour. Goes well with seafood, pork, Asian vegetables and herbs.
12. Cremini “brown”
Popularly known as brown mushrooms, creminis are actually young portobellos that have yet to mature. They are also similar in size to white mushrooms but feature a light brown colour, a firmer texture, and are much more flavourful. Creminis can be eaten raw or cooked, and are ideal for baking, roasting, or stewing.
All mushrooms featured are available at FairPrice Finest outlets.
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