I love mushrooms, but the reality is that my commonly frequented grocery stores carry all of two mushroom types; white and portobello. What’s the deal with that?
Trust me, if you are only buying two varieties of mushrooms (as great as they are), you are missing out.
If you are new to mushroom variations here are a few really great ones to try your hand at.
What We Love About Mushrooms
The smaller mushroom varieties are some of my favorite mushrooms. They are so quick and easy to use…easier than the more common mushrooms which take forever to wash and slice. I’m lazy and love to just chop off the very bottom and cook them in whole pieces. My husband prefers all mushrooms cut into tiny pieces so the flavors integrate across each dish, but I’m convinced mushrooms should be eaten for both the flavors and the joy of the texture.
Hey, when you are vegetarian or vegan, texture and bite become an essential part of each and every dish. The reason so many vegetarians over-use analog meats is because they desire a protein-like texture to give some substance to their dishes. It’s the reason I love a great mushroom…it can help satisfy part of that need when executed correctly within a dish.
Brown & White Beech Mushrooms:
Most people won’t be able to detect a difference between the brown and white beech mushrooms beyond coloration, so you can use them interchangeably. I select based on the color I want highlighted in my dish.
These are nice mild flavored mushrooms, much like the white mushrooms we are so used to. Which means most people will enjoy this mushroom if they like mushrooms to begin with. That makes this perfect for those who are branching out in mushroom varieties for the first time.
Plus they are easy to prepare. Always a win for me.
I love them sauteed whole with just the ends cut off. They are great for some variety in a stir fry, in a miso-like soup, or as a bed for a creamy pasta dish.
Enoki & Seafood Mushrooms
You may discover that these names are interchangeable. Often I’ll find both these long skinny varieties labeled either way depending on the brand. However I definitely don’t use them interchangeably…
The seafood mushrooms with the larger stems and caps obviously have more substance to chew on. They taste much more fishy (thus the seafood name) than other mushrooms I’ve had.
The thinner tendril enoki types are easy to mess up in my opinion. You don’t want to just toss them in at the same time as other mushrooms. Because they are so thin they can get lost in a dish and overcooked. If you are going to use enoki, I think they should be treated as a feature in a dish. Choose dishes you WANT to have the seafood flavor in, and saute these little guys separately from all the other foods. Then if you want to mix them into a dish and finish off cooking them that is fine, or if you want to turn them into their own complimentary flavor, I like to add them to the top of another dish after cooking.
King Trumpet Mushrooms
I admit, I’m not the biggest fan of this mushroom…mostly because if you buy one that is older it can have a strong distinct flavor and somewhat bitter undertone. But bought fresh it’s flavor works really well in quite a few dishes. Much like a portobello mushroom it has a great firm texture. So it is still a go-to for quite a few dishes in my menu plan.
Where I Buy Mushrooms
These mushrooms are not only a great introduction to new varieties, but they are some of the more common varieties to find. Your best bet is an International or Asian market near you. I have also found beech mushrooms, shiitake, and trumpet at certain health food stores such as Whole Foods.