What is an oyster mushroom?
This fan-shaped mushroom grows both wild and cultivated in close clusters, often on rotting tree trunks. They’re also called oyster caps , tree mushrooms , tree oyster mushrooms , summer oyster mushrooms , pleurotte and shimeji . The cap varies in color from pale gray to dark brownish-gray. The stems are grayish-white. The flavor of raw oyster mushrooms is fairly robust and slightly peppery but becomes much milder when cooked. They’re available in some areas year-round, particularly in specialty produce and Asian markets. Young oyster mushrooms (1 1/2 inches in diameter and under) are considered the best. Also available are canned oyster mushrooms, which should be rinsed before using.
Oyster Mushroom Risotto – Serves 4
Italian-grown arborio rice is often used for risottos. It has grains that are shorter and fatter than any other rice. The high starch content of arborio rice yields a creamy texture when cooked. However, if it is difficult to obtain, then a similar rice can be substituted. Risotto takes about 20 minutes of careful cooking and watching. Other things can be prepared while keeping a corner of the eye on this dish.
• 5 tablespoons vegetable cooking oil
• 500g oyster mushrooms, fibrous stems removed and reserved for stock; caps torn into pieces like broccoli florets if very large
• Salt to taste
• 1 large shallot, finely diced
• 2 tablespoons extra cooking oil
• 5 cups warm water
• 2 cups rice
• 1/2 cup grated dried Parmesan, plus more for serving
How to do it:
1. Chop up a few of the tougher ends from oyster mushroom clusters and add to the 5 cups water to make a mushroom broth. Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. Vegetable of chicken broth can also be used.
2. In a large, heavy frying pan, heat 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over medium heat until very hot, but not quite smoking. Sauté the roughly chopped mushrooms, in 3 equal batches, for about 5-10 minutes or until they are soft and tender. Take care not to crowd the pan. Add a small pinch of salt halfway through cooking.
3. Remove sautéed mushrooms with a slotted spoon and set aside. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms, adding an additional tablespoon of oil per batch. Set mushrooms aside – to be added the last few minutes of cooking.
4. In a large pot set over medium heat, combine the 2 tablespoons of extra cooking oil and the finely chopped shallot. Cook and stir until the shallot is softened, 3-4 minutes. Do not brown it.
5. Add the rice. Stir until all of the rice grains are coated in the fat and have become translucent around the edges, about a minute.
6. Raise the heat to high and immediately add the simmering broth a cup at a time until it is absorbed by the rice. Stir and repeat, adding broth as rice absorbs it. Stir the rice, making sure you get into the corners of your pot with your spoon, so the rice doesn’t stick. A pot with a rounded bottom, that is a saucier, will help to make sure the rice does not stick and burn. Continue stirring until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Add another 1/2 cup of broth and keep stirring.
7. Continue adding the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, adding more only when the last 1/2 cup has been absorbed. Keep stirring. Depending on the rice, you may use all of the liquid, or you may have some liquid left over. Or you may need to add additional rice. Keep an eye on the rice, tasting a grain at a time at the end, if you need to, to determine when the rice is done.
8. The rice be close to cooked after 20 minutes. It should be soft but a little firm when bit – al dente. The cy dry rice taste fades with cooking.
9. Stir in about three-quarters of the reserved sautéed mushrooms. Add the Parmesan cheese. Taste and correct for salt.
10. To serve: spoon risotto into a bowl. Top with some of the remaining sautéed mushrooms and more cheese if liked (and some chives if you wish).
Love and Oyster Mushrooms!