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 …