Date: 09-10-2019 published by Nick Baines
Characterised by their depth, earthiness and savouriness, mushrooms are synonymous with autumn. At this time of year the bounty unfolds as we see everything from porcini and chanterelles, through to enoki and oyster mushrooms come through Fresh Direct. However, beyond the mainstay of your standard British field mushroom, we offer a wealth of options for your culinary explorations.
As the temperature drops and the weather begins to deteriorate, autumn draws a swelling of hungry customers through restaurant doors. This is the season where diners turn their attention to hearty, warming dishes and seek restoration that can’t be found in a cold-pressed juice. As the ‘avocado toast’ gravy train shows no sign of slowing down, many restaurateurs and chefs have been using sourdough toast as a vehicle for other high margin menu items. Mushrooms provide the ultimate savoury hit, strengthened by garlic, black pepper, thyme and lashings of butter. This dish can be taken up a notch with exotic mushrooms, which deliver a unique balance of flavour.
Heading to larger, more filling dishes, we find the stroganoff, a Russian recipe that most famously used beef in its makeup, but more recently has been transformed into a veggie-vegan favourite. Exotic mushrooms are a winner in this dish, braised with base ingredients including onions, garlic, paprika and stock. You might remember Jamie Oliver bringing this dish to fame over a decade ago with ‘chicken of the woods’ a large fungi that grows up high in trees. The heft of this mushroom has long made an enviable meat alternative but continues to be an elusive item on the dinner plate.
As the numbers of vegans and vegetarians soar, mushrooms continue to play a vital role in recipe development due to their ability to deliver depth and savouriness. Of course, dried porcini has long been used for its incredible ability to bring a heavy umami kick to dishes, and continues to strengthen a wide range of risottos and pasta dishes.
It’s worth mentioning the rise in alternative coffee blends in the US. In the pursuit for higher human performance, those following ‘wellness’ trends will have encountered everything from alkaline water to nootropics. However, what’s gaining traction right now is mushroom coffee, mainly due to the connection between lions mane mushrooms and improved brain function. This interest is sure to play out in the wellness space and has options for savvy chefs to capitalise in the right markets.
Moving back into more classical territory, many chefs will eagerly be awaiting the arrival of chantrelles. These glorious trumpet-shaped mushrooms are a colourful icon of the woodland and a symbol of autumnal flavour. Looking back to enoki and oyster mushrooms you also have a wealth of options for Japanese dishes like ramen.
However, you plan to explore this abundant season of ‘shrooms, be sure to look beyond the humble field mushroom, and explore the diversity of exotic mushrooms on offer at Fresh Direct.
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