|Do you prefer clams or oyster (mushrooms)? - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
I can thank my friends Sean and Madonna (no, not the 80s Brangelina, this is an awesome couple who happen to have serious 1980s Kwan with their name pairings), for telling me to check out "The Mushroom Dude" at the Redmond Farmers Market because they have some seriously good stuff, man. As hallucinogenically illicit as that sounds, it's actually Sno-Valley Mushrooms, based out of our own neck of the Duvallian woods. They sell cultivated mushrooms, ranging from familiar shiitake and oyster, to exotic lovelies like lion's mane and a crazy-bright yellow variety of oyster mushrooms. They also sell grow-your-own kits, which was what I saw at my friends' house -- I was admiring with much fungi-envy, since our mushroom log has yet to produce any more shroomy goodness. Curses! I was tempted to start another at-home mushroom garden, but then I realized I'm in utter lazy gardener mode, so I got a nice bundle of fresh oyster mushrooms. They were a little discounted, since I got them from the not-quite-perfect pile, which was fine by me, the flavor wouldn't be affected one bit.
While not that exotic, oyster mushrooms are a real treat, as are any fresh, somewhat unusual mushroom. They're very delicate, with their thin, wing-like caps, which is what makes them such ideal cooking fungi, since they cook so evenly. I find the flavor to be somewhat mild, not as heady as a morel or porcini, which makes it a nice vehicle for flavors like herbs and butter. Because, really, what's not to love about a butter vehicle? And so I set my gastronomic compass to herb/butter with my mushrooms in-hand, but not before a quick stop to get a bag of fresh, lovely Bing cherries. I know the sherbet-swirled Rainier cherries are the bomb-diggety for summertime eats, but I eschew prettier food photos in lieu of the dark, gothic, sanguine richness of Bings. I will always choose the intense, rich flavor of Bings over the more floral, subdued Rainier cherries. I could sit and eat Bing cherries all. freaking. day. and never get tired of them. I know my digestive system will rage against me, but I don't care -- Bing cherries all the way.
|The odd couple, courtesy of the Redmond Farmers Market - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
For a midweek meal, it was incredibly indulgent. You can't beat the flavor of real butter, and this absolutely celebrates that glorious dairy fat. It pairs nicely with the mushrooms, and as the butter toasts in the pan, its nuttiness compliments the subtle earthiness of the oyster mushrooms. Fresh herbs are great, especially sage, since it's got a soft, evergreen flavor that doesn't overwhelm everything else. I could go on and on about how much I loved this meal. The only thing that could match this meal was a dessert of chilled Bing cherries for dessert.
|No matter what, never skimp on the butter! - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
Herbed Butter Mushrooms
1 bundle (about 2 cups' worth) of cleaned, roughly-chopped fresh oyster mushrooms
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh sage, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely minced
salt and pepper to taste
Heat a medium sized pan to medium heat on the stove. Add butter and swirl to melt. Allow it to simmer for an extra minute or two, to start toasting, before adding the mushrooms. Toss mushrooms in the butter, letting them release their moisture and soak up the butter for a few minutes. Add a pinch of salt and fresh-cracked pepper. Add the chopped herbs and continue to toss everything as the mushrooms begin to toast. When they've shriveled down to less than half their size and golden brown, remove the pan from the heat and pour the mushrooms over pasta, risotto, scrambled egg -- whatever you want to make totally amazing.