Today, we’re talking about our favorite fungi. Strangely shaped and insanely versatile, the beautiful mushroom is one of our favorite star ingredients. It cooks quickly, imparts a lovely earthy flavor, and plays super well with others. With so many varieties of this fun fungi, we thought it best to demystify the humble ‘shroom with a guide to all the kinds we can’t get enough of. Add them to your pasta, put them on a pizza, grill them up like a burger, or even transform them into faux bacon. Time to get to know your shrooms.
Chanterelles are trumpet-shaped, and often boast a honey-colored hue. Known as girolle in French and Pfifferling in German, they are delicate and nutty in flavor and chewy in texture. They are often imported from Europe, and should be cooked quickly, as they can turn tough when overcooked.
Maitake, also called hen of the woods mushrooms, are known as such due to their distinctive shape vaguely resembling the body of a hen. They grow together in large masses and have a ruffled leaf-like appearance with a white edge. Maitake have a delicate texture and are best sautéed. Though they’re not as common as other varieties, when you see them, scoop them up—you won’t be disappointed!
Cremini mushrooms are one of the most commonly used varieties in our recipes—they’re just that good. Dark brown and slightly more mature than the everyday button mushroom, Cremini are actually young Portobello shrooms. As a result, Cremini are often sold under a number of names you’ve probably seen around: baby bella, baby portobello, common brown mushroom. We love Cremini for their earthy flavor and easy preparation. Alongside hearty dinosaur kale, they star in our much-loved, super savory Beef Noodle Bowls.
This Asian shroom variety definitely looks a little different than the others (the cultivated version features thin, spaghetti-like strands with little white caps), but they are super easy to cook, and tasty raw as well. Simply remove caps from the stem, and cook very lightly or much on them raw.
These earthy mushrooms are generally short and stout with a puffy, thick white stem and pale brown top. They’re known (and loved) for their strong, meaty flavor, and are rarely available raw in the U.S. Most commonly, you’ll find them dried—they add hearty, earthiness to soups, stews and stuffings.
Originally, shiitake mushrooms were cultivated solely in Japan and Korea, but thankfully they’re now grown throughout the United States—a true testament to their long lasting popularity. The dark brown caps can vary in size, but are usually 3–6 inches in diameter, but can be as large as 8–10. The stems are tough and should be removed before cooking, while the caps are where it’s at. Shiitakes can also be dried and used to flavor all kinds of soups and sauces. One of our go-to techniques for shiitakes? Roast them with a brown sugar, soy, and gochujang marinade. We let them shine bright (like a diamond) in our veggie bibimbap, alongside sweet potatoes, spinach, and crispy rice. Yeah.
You’ve probably eaten a portobello mushroom at least once, even if you didn’t realize it then. From humble, hard-to-sell beginnings, the unglamorous big bello morphed into a super popular variety that is fairly ubiquitous now. Because of their large cap size and thick texture, portobellos can stand up to heavy seasoning and sauces. Vegetarians out there most likely know this shroom well as a burger replacement (so good), and we’re partial to using them as a base for cheesy, saucy pizza. Just make to discard the stems and gills when cooking!
Morels (of the same species as the truffle) are an edible wild mushroom with a honeycomb-like appearance. Morels have a distinctive, nutty, flavor, and can stand up to creamiest of sauces (Alfredo, anyone?). They are a seasonal treat, available from April to June, and you should get in line to grab them while they’re hot.
Not to be confused with molluscs of the sea, these fan-shaped shrooms grow both wild and cultivated, often on tree trunks. Oyster mushrooms caps come in many colors, from pale gray and white to darker brown, while the stem is most often white. When eaten raw, oyster mushrooms have a strong, almost spicy flavor, but mellow out significantly after cooking. If you’re looking for a new way to try out the oyster shroom, this totally vegetarian version of bacon is the way to go. It may not be beef, but it’s seriously delicious.