Parenting Tips

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Fantastic Mushrooms

Today, I would like to share with you the fantastic range of mushrooms available in Asia.

White button mushrooms

These are round, plump, creamy and mild. The fresh and canned forms are the most available. As they mature, their caps partially open and they are better known as cap or big mushrooms. Whites may be used raw in salads, stir-fried, braised, baked or sauted . They can also be cooked with other vegetables, nuts, meat, poultry, fish and shellfish, rice, pasta, noodles and breads.

Shiitake or black mushrooms
These are brown to black umbrella-shaped mushrooms with caps that are 1 inch to 3 inches in diameter. They can either be thin or thick with or without white fissures. Of all mushrooms, shiitakes are more preferred and more available in their dried form because these are more fragrant.

Soak these in boiling water for 30 minutes or warm water for a few hours or tap water overnight. Either way, your shiitakes will be tender but those soaked in tap water will be the tastiest. Reserve the soaking liquid for stock. Shiitake is used in soups, stir-fries, steaming, boiling and braising. It is also a favourite for vegetarian dishes because of their intense flavor and meaty texture. They combine well with bland ingredients.

Black mushrooms
These come mainly from
China and are known as "the plant of immortality" because of their legendary restorative properties. They have been used to treat colds, flu, poor circulation, stomach upset and exhaustion. Shiitake black mushrooms has two times more protein than button mushrooms.

Black tree ears or cloud ears
These are almost always sold dried. According to the Chinese, they "keep the blood fluid," or help improve circulation. Black tree ears are also used as medicines as they help fight atherosclerosis and improve blood clotting.

Although flavorless, these are delightfully crunchy. To use, soak tree ears in warm water for 30 minutes to an hour. When soft, trim off any gritty base then rinse thoroughly. Tree ears go well with soups, glass vermicelli, spring rolls and poultry.

Oyster mushrooms
These are cultivated or wild. They grow in clusters of fan-shaped caps that are creamy gray. They have a smooth texture and mild flavor reminiscent of the sea, hence the name. Large ones are torn and added to soupy, stir-fried and even grilled dishes during the last minutes of cooking.

Straw mushrooms
These are grayish brown mushrooms grown on beds of rice straw in
Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Java in Indonesia and the Philippines. Fresh straw mushrooms are available only in Asian markets. Canned straw mushrooms must be drained and rinsed thoroughly before use. These combine well with other ingredients in soups, saute braises and grilled fare.

Enoki mushrooms
These whitish with their tiny dot-like caps and long slender stems resemble needles. They can be bought at supermarkets in fresh clumps. Enoki is best added raw to salads or as half-cooked garnish for soups and other hot dishes.

Creminis (brown button mushrooms) or portobello mushrooms
These are the brown and stronger-flavored versions of white mushrooms available seasonally at high-end Asian supermarkets. Portobellos are full-grown creminis with thick, meaty and robustly flavored caps that can grow up to 6 inches in diameter. They are versatile mushrooms that are great for almost all types of cooking methods including grilling and broiling whole.

Singapore parents, hope you have found the tips on treatments of the various mushrooms useful.

Next week, will share with you more dishes using different mushrooms. . .


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