Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Like pink pearls.. beautiful pink oyster mushrooms

I always absentmindedly check out the mushroom stand in the San Francisco farmer's market. The "Mushroom Guy." I love the Mushroom Guy(s). They are always jolly and helpful. Today, they taught me that "shiitake" is pronounce "shi-yee-ta-ke." He told me Americans are always truncating Japanese words.

I don't often buy anything from them, but today something at their stand caught my eye. While these mushrooms are dubbed "oyster" mushrooms for their taste, their color is that of a lustrous pink pearl. As a part-time girly girl, I am a sucker for anything pink.

I bought a bag of the pink 'shrooms with a creamy pasta in mind. Once, I made a great bechamel and mushroom lasagna, so I decided to adapt that into a pasta for the oyster mushrooms as well. I came up with a simple bechamel sauce, flavored with onion and garlic, to pair with the mushrooms.

The verdict: these mushrooms are pungent!! I can't recall the last time I had normal white-colored oyster mushrooms, so I can't really compare with absolute certainty. But these seem way more pungent than any mushroom I've ever had. They were described by the Mushroom Guy as "woodsy." That was an understatement, to say the least. They were gamy, tangy, and somewhat stinky in a wild-tasting, almost fermented way. It was definitely an interesting experience, but not sure if I would pick the mushroom again.

The pasta was delicious. I'd try this dish again. Perhaps I'll try chanterelles or shiitakes next time.

Pasta with pink oyster mushrooms
Serves 2

  • 1 carton of pink oyster mushrooms
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 6 tbsp of butter
  • 2 tbsp of flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 2 portions of whole wheat spaghetti or linguine, cooked (I used spaghetti, but linguine would probably be better for picking up the cream sauce.)
  • 1/2 a lemon (optional)
  • chives or parsley to garnish (optional)
  1. Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a shallow, wide pan on medium. Saute diced onions until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the mushrooms and saute just until cooked. Remove and set aside.
  3. Heat the milk in a bowl until just warm (~20 seconds at a time, stirring to make sure it does not burn.)
  4. Melt the remaining butter in the original pan. Add the minced garlic, saute for a minute.
  5. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter. Stir everything until well-mixed.
  6. Add the milk. Whisk until well-mixed and creamy. Bring to a boil and then cook for ten minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Add the mushrooms back into the mixture. Add the cooked spaghetti. Mix, taste, and season with more salt and pepper if desired. Squeeze 1/2 a lemon over the top, if desired, for a fresh, punchy taste. (I like how it cuts through the cream. And I am a big lemon fan, of course!)
  8. Chop some parsley or chives, garnish, and serve.