I had resolved to do without mushrooms for the rest of the Challenge, because I think of them as being really expensive (for a good reason – because they’re delicious). But last time I saw them at the grocery store, they seemed too good to pass up. So I contented myself with buying ‘just a little bit’.
But it turns out that my preconceptions are all wrong. Sure, $5.99 or $12.99 a pound may sound expensive, but when you consider what mushrooms weigh – almost nothing – they’re not expensive at all. This time, we spent a total of $5.95 on mushrooms, and they made a whole dish on their own, a substantial sauce on another dish, and they were topping for our tenderloin burger.
The yummiest mushroom is the shiitake, and we actually spent less on it ($0.77) than on any other type of mushroom. Technically, baby bella costs less per pound ($3.67), but baby bella is a lot heavier than shiitake. On a per serving basis, I would still estimate baby bella to be more expensive than shiitake. I guess shiitake is to mushrooms as Shanghai bok choy is to vegetables: a dominant alternative because it tastes better and costs less than all other alternatives.
For the amount of flavour you get, mushrooms may give you some of the biggest bang for your buck. If you feel like you can’t afford cheese or herbs or spices or condiments, why not whip up some mushrooms?
Sautéed mushroom with garlic
We first saw this dish on one of Jamie Oliver’s shows. We can’t remember the details, so we just make it up every time. This dish is 100% about mushrooms, and it’s what convinced me that mushrooms are possibly the tastiest thing on Earth.
- Slice up an assortment of wild mushrooms finely. Many wild mushrooms are cultivated these days, but they’re still called ‘wild’ to differentiate them from things like button mushrooms, which taste completely different. In Chinese, we actually have two different words for the types of mushroom, but I can’t figure out the equivalent English or biological/taxonomic difference.
- Heat up a generous amount of olive oil over medium/medium high heat. When I say generous, I mean it. The mushrooms soak up olive oil like you wouldn’t believe. Also, use half olive oil/half butter if you like. I like to make this dish in a nonstick pan no matter how much oil I use, it sticks like crazy to our stainless steel wok.
- Pour in the mushrooms and stir to coat with the oil.
- Season with salt and pepper. Add minced or crushed garlic (I use my homemade garlic paste). Garlic and mushrooms are best friends, so feel free to be generous, especially if you like garlic (or love it unreasonably passionately, like me).
- Keep stirring … and stirring … and stirring. When the mushrooms take on this beautiful melted look and the sauce has developed, add a dash of lemon juice (optional) and serve.
Do not add water or cover during the process. You don’t want the mushrooms to steam and get rubbery.
Wings with mushroom sauce
Purely Hide’s creation. Because he’s a genius.
- Make wings. We did it using drumsticks with Alton Brown’s wing recipe.
- Sauté diced shallots and minced garlic in butter.
- Once shallots are soft and translucent, add mushrooms and sauté. Season with salt and pepper.
- When the mushrooms look done (that melting appearance mentioned earlier), turn off the heat and add some freshly grated Parmesan.
- Garnish with diced scallions and serve.