• clairhenderson

Melt in the Mouth MUSHROOMS!


You probably know I love a mushroom. I love a forage and I love the thrill of only being 99.9% sure you'll live to the end of your dinner.


Of course mushrooms in the wild have a pretty bad rep. We have been told, for good reason, don't touch, don't eat, they're poisonous. And the reality is that yes, there are a couple in the British Countryside that could finish you off if you popped them in a risotto. And plenty more that would give you a tummy ache/make you see god/pee purple pee for a week.

But there are also some tasty specimens out there if you get good guidance, do your homework and double check. Or even beautiful findings if you still don't want to touch. If nothing else, it's an exciting reason to jump out of bed on a bright autumn morning and take a stroll in the woods. Even if you are not collecting, once you get your eye in, you will see them everywhere! If you are thinking about having a delve for the first time, I can thoroughly recommend John Wright's River Cottage Guide to Mushrooms as a light starter. And a full on forage with Essex forage expert Leon Lewis for a heavier main course. (he's easy to find on facebook)





The passion is real as there really are many magic things about mushrooms. They are not technically vegetables as they're not actually plants. They're fungi and have about as much in common with a potato as they do with a rhinosaurus. I know. Crazy.

There are many many mycophiles (mushroom lovers) who believe that they are a hugely under researched source of health and wellbeing, medicine and healing qualities. Whether this is true or not, we do know for certain that they are very high in protein, great if you don't eat much meat; and high in vitamin D and other mood boosting chemicals.


So this week we have included beautiful meaty, ear-like Oyster mushrooms. Grown in Poland and arrived by road, these gorgeous silky autumn magicians are a delight to add to any dinner table. With their meaty consistency - they don't shrink as much as cup mushrooms - they are perfect as a meat substitute in things like fajitas, pies or stir fries. But for an easy way to show off the best qualities of these gorgeous beings, I would suggest this recipe. They do get a really good crisp finish in an airfryer, but if you're feeling decadant, a couple of inches of oil and you will be creating restaurant level grub.




Ingredients


A note on washing mushrooms. All fruit and veg should be well washed before cooking or eating. Whether they are home grown, wrapped in plastic, organic or none of the above. They have grown in the open air, they have been handled, they have been transported, they may have been stored in a warehouse or container. Always wash them. Mushrooms however are more tricky as (less so for this recipe but) you don't usually want to get water on them as it can make them slimy! I wipe them with a kitchen towel but there are various cloths and brushes you can buy to aid your mushroom cleaning!


And a note on flours. You may have your best batter combo sewn up and i'd love to hear yours if you do. Like so many recipes, we have our own family traditions. But if you're still finding yours, I would suggest trying the below mix of plain and rice. The plain flour makes a spectacular colour, and the rice flour for the best crunch.



Oyster Mushrooms

200ml Plant based milk


Seasoning

1tsp garlic powder

1tsp salt

1/2 tsp chilli powder (or more if you're feeling dangerous)

2 tbsps rice flour

2 tbsp plain flour



Method


1. If you have large mushrooms, you may want to chop them. ideally each mushroom piece should be 2-3 bites. Too small and they're just batter. Too big and they're just mushroom. Soak the mushroom or mushroom pieces in a shallow bowl of milk for at least 30 minutes. In the meantime fire up your air fryer, or get a couple of inches of oil hot hot hot.


2. Mix up the seasoning in a shallow bowl for easy of dipping.


3. Dip each piece of mushroom into the mix and leave on a piece of baking paper. Once you've completed the dipping, you can redip in the milk and then again the seasoning for extra crunchy coating. Don't worry if it gets a bit messy and patchy.


4. Place your mushrooms in a single layer in a preheated fryer, or in the hot oil for about 5 minutes. Shake and fry for a further 5 minutes.


5. Drain on kitchen towel and let cool for a moment, then serve up with dips of your choice. As I like chilli, I have gone for a cooling Raita here, but tomato or chilli sauces are great too!

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