Saturday, August 26, 2006

Mushroomers #1

The last month's rains-- virtualy every afternoon and evening-- have brought out a bumper crop, of several species.

Here are our friends and fellow mycophiles Simon and Della Armijo with a few. They each have half of a "cauliflower", Sparassis crispa. It is also eaten in Tibet and Nepal. This species is especially good for stews because it is rather tough and still tastes good. And ONE gives you enough to dry.

Simon also holds a huge shaggy mane. They are delicious but you must eat them the day you pick them because otherwise, like something in an H. P. Lovecraft story, they deliquesce into a pool of black ink (which can still spread the spores). Also, best not to drink any alcohol when eating it. The effect is like that of Niacin-- flushed face, rapid heartbeat-- unpleasant.

A quick recipe, for a Chinese "red" stew with (four to six) beef short ribs:

Take an inch of thick ginger root and cut in four slices; smash. Chop six scallions into two- inch lengths. Heat oil in a wok until it sizzles. Add a tsp of brown sugar, stir. Add the ginger and scallions and five little hot dried chiles; stir fry.

Now add the ribs; brown. Add five star anise. Deglaze with a little chicken stock. Add six or more heaping tablespoons of soy sauce.

Add enough chicken stock, with water if needed, to almost submerge the ribs. Add a pound of fresh chopped cauliflower mushrooms, bite- sized. Bring just to boil, lower to low simmer. Add six more scallions whole in a bundle on top. Simmer long, until meat falls off bones. Serve with mashed potatoes with finely chopped fresh (not boiled) garlic.

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