Alice Zaslavsky’s fungi fettuccine: sure, you may wash mushrooms! | Australian food and drinks

Never wash mushrooms, we’ve been informed. They’ll launch the moisture throughout cooking and turn out to be slimy, they are saying. So that you dutifully brush away the grime, perhaps even purchase a devoted instrument for the duty, and keep away from getting them moist in any respect prices. And but throughout cooking these beloved ’shrooms go soggy anyway, and also you turn out to be a lifelong mushroom sceptic. So what if I informed you virtually all the things you’ve been taught about cooking mushrooms is apparent unsuitable?

Firstly, it’s time to cease treating mushrooms like a vegetable. They exist in their very own fungi kingdom, which signifies that anticipating them to behave within the pan like the opposite two organic kingdoms – animals (meat) and vegetation (fruit and greens) – is a mistake. (And in some methods, mushrooms are loads like people. They’ll soak up vitamin D from the solar – “tanning” them for quarter-hour within the solar enhances their vitamin D ranges.)

Mushrooms on a chopping board next to a person's arm
Deal with them proper and also you’ll have mushrooms with massive umami savouriness and un-soggy texture. {Photograph}: Eugene Hyland/The Guardian

Secondly, in contrast to greens or meat, you may’t overcook a mushroom to break down; the fibres stay steadfast. That’s why, in vegan recipes and merchandise, you’ll discover shredded shiitakes rather than pulled pork, or an oyster mushroom “steak” as a substitute of beef. The form holds, whereas the savouriness … mushrooms.

To reinforce a mushroom’s naturally occurring glutamates, that you must massive up the brown. The browner the mushroom selection, the extra umami it comprises, and searing will maximise the meatiness.

We’ve been informed to by no means wash our mushrooms, however soaking them in water helps to dislodge any grit. {Photograph}: Eugene Hyland/The Guardian

However one of many greatest blunders folks make is including fats to the pan too quickly. This seals in all their pure moisture which ultimately results in that sweaty, slimy texture dreaded by mushroom-averse people.

The answer? The moist fry.

Moist-fry mushroom fettuccine with crème fraîche and mustard – recipe

To moist fry mushrooms, earlier than you add any fats to the pan, first crank the warmth, then add a splash of water and a splash of soy or Worcestershire sauce, and boil the shiitake out of your mushrooms. This helps infuse the mushrooms with flavour, whereas additionally intensifying the umami by evaporating extra moisture from their spongey our bodies. Do that with greens and their cell construction will both break down or toughen up; mushrooms, nonetheless, will maintain their form and soak up no matter aromatics you throw at them.

Slice mushrooms simmering in water in a pan.
To moist fry mushrooms, first boil them in water and a splash of Worcestershire. {Photograph}: Eugene Hyland/The Guardian

This implies you can even overlook in regards to the rule of retaining mushrooms dry. Give your mushrooms soak or rinse earlier than you utilize them, as you’d salad leaves, to correctly purge any grit or pine needles. I soak my mushrooms together with no matter else they’re about to get pleasant with – herbs, greens, even garlic and shallots (soaking softens their skins and makes them simpler to peel).

However again to the wet-fried mushrooms. As soon as the liquid has totally evaporated and a brown movie of flavour has settled on the underside of the pan, it’s time to place the “fry” in moist fry!

Sliced mushrooms frying in a pan with a knob of butter.
After all of the boiling water has evaporated, add butter or oil to caramelise the mushrooms. {Photograph}: Eugene Hyland/The Guardian
Cooking mushrooms
Moist frying will assist your assist them exit in a golden brown glaze of glory. {Photograph}: Eugene Hyland/The Guardian

Add a splash of brandy (watch out – it could flame!) to deglaze the pan and raise off the fond (AKA the crispy bits), then foam in some butter or a slosh of oil to reincorporate all of that saucy savouriness, additional caramelise the mushrooms, and assist them exit in a golden brown glaze of glory.

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In this recipe, I’ve chosen a stroganoffy flavour combination for the wet fry, and then let the mushrooms bob about in a tangle of fettuccine (I’ve used fresh here but you could easily use dried, and follow the packet cooking instructions). Once you get the hang of wet frying, have a play with flavours and applications: soup, sauce, omelette fillings, stir-fried noodles. And be creative with mushroom varieties too. I’ve used bog-standard buttons here, but you could easily sub in varieties that are nice, different or unusual such as fresh shiitake, shimeji, chestnut and the like. The world’s your oyster (mushroom)!

Chopped chives and parsley being sprinkled into a pan of creamy mushroom pasta.
A final sprinkle of chopped chives and parsley adds freshness to this creamy mushroom pasta. Photograph: Eugene Hyland/The Guardian

Serves 4

500g button mushrooms
2 sprigs thyme
4 cloves garlic
1 shallot
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
(substitute with soy sauce for vegetarians)
1 tbsp brandy
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
, plus extra to serve
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dijon mustard
¼ tsp paprika
200g creme fraiche
50g parmesan,
finely grated
400g fresh fettuccine
Chives and parsley, finely chopped, to serve

Soak the mushrooms, thyme, garlic and shallot in water for 10 minutes to remove dirt and grit from the mushrooms and thyme, and soften the skins of the garlic and shallot to make them easier to peel. Remove the mushrooms from the water and slice thinly, keeping the stalks intact, but trimming off any mangy bits.

Heat a large frying pan over high heat. Add the mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, thyme and a half cup of water. Bring to the boil, and boil vigorously for 10 to 15 minutes until the liquid fully evaporates.

While the mushrooms are boiling, peel and finely slice the garlic cloves and shallot and set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.

Returning to the mushrooms, when the liquid has evaporated let the mushrooms sit and sear in the pan for one minute, and toss about occasionally until they become brown. Add the brandy to deglaze the pan (be careful – it may flame).

Add the olive oil, butter, garlic and shallots. Season with salt and fry until the mushrooms become a gloriously glossy, golden brown.

Stir in the tomato paste and mustard and fry for one to two minutes until everything is a uniform shade of burnt umber.

Remove pan from the heat, then stir through the paprika, creme fraiche and two-thirds of the parmesan (reserve the remainder for serving)..

Once the large pot of water is boiling, drop in your fettuccine and boil for a minute, stirring to help the strands separate (if using dried pasta, follow the packet instructions).

Transfer the cooked pasta straight into the mushroom pan and stir until the fettuccine is well coated in the sauce, pouring in a ladleful or so of pasta water to loosen the sauce if need be. Taste for seasoning. Transfer to bowls, sprinkle with reserved parmesan, chopped chives and parsley, a final flourish of olive oil and cracked pepper, and serve immediately.

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