When I think of mushrooms, I picture the Crimini or Shiitakes at the grocery store. Dependably delicious and healthy, these little fungi are usually a few inches long, the perfect size for my risotto or stir fry. However, it turns out that there are bigger, more exotic options for the more adventurous mushroom-lovers out there, one of which is the king oyster mushroom.
King Oyster Mushrooms
King oyster mushrooms, also known as king trumpet mushrooms or Pleurotus eryngii, are special for a number of reasons. For one, they're the largest of the oyster mushroom genus, averaging between 10 and 15 cm in length! That's a lot of mushroom if you ask me. These yummy mushrooms are native to the Mediterranean regions of the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, along with some parts of Asia. Along with being large in size, they are a great source of vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, folic acid, and calcium.
They also set themselves apart with their tender stalks, which aren't tough or woody like those of other mushrooms. King oyster mushrooms are beloved for their chewy, meaty texture and umami flavor. These tasty shrooms last for about a week in the fridge and maintain their shape when cooked. Aficionados have compared them to abalone or scallops in texture, and they're a great meat replacement in recipes. Because of this, they're often referred to as 'mushroom steaks' or 'vegan scallops.'
King oyster mushrooms are used most often in Asian cuisines, most notably Chinese, Japanese and Korean. They are very versatile and highly sought after by chefs. These popular mushrooms are tasty when braised, boiled, sautéed, and grilled. If you decide to try your hand at a 'mushroom steak,' choose your mushrooms carefully, as their price matches their deliciousness, so they don't come cheap! Choose mushrooms with firm stems and unbroken caps, and brush the dirt off gently rather than washing them with water.
How To Cook King Oyster Mushrooms
There are many different ways to enjoy King oyster mushrooms, from stir-fry to BBQ to veggie stews and sauces. The best size to buy depends on your particular king oyster mushroom recipe, but for this cooking method, it's best to choose middle-size ones. Try to avoid washing your mushrooms, but if there's too much dirt, rinse them quickly under running water and avoid soaking. For two servings, get four king oyster mushrooms.
To make tasty pan-fried mushrooms, start by cutting them into pieces 2 to 3 cm thick, and then lightly score a crisscross pattern into one side of each mushroom. It doesn't matter how this looks- this is simply to help the mushroom cook evenly and allow the seasoning to be fully absorbed.
Heat a pan or wok over high heat, and add a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and whatever seasoning you prefer. When cooking mushrooms, I always go with a few minced garlic cloves, a sprinkle of black pepper, and sea salt or a bit of light soy sauce. Put in the mushrooms cut-side down, and turn the heat down to medium-high.
Continue to cook for 3-5 minutes depending on the size of the mushrooms, or until they are tender and have a golden brown hue. Transfer to a serving plate and serve hot! Garnish with scallions or use a side of chili sauce for extra flavor.