Here at Mushroom PO, we believe that there’s a place for mushrooms in every meal, from a gourmet dinner to a Saturday morning fry-up. In this ‘all about…’ series we’ll look at the oyster mushroom, one of the lesser-known varieties that can add a new level of greatness to your meals!
Taste and appearance
If you want to add a new dimension to your cooking or impress your friends, then you can’t go wrong with oyster mushrooms. Like their namesake, they typically have an off-white colour and a slight fan shape that looks quite beautiful on a plate. But like everything in nature, there’s always variety and oyster mushrooms can also be found in grey and pink too.
If you’re interested in foraging, then chances are that you’ve come across these unusual looking mushrooms as they grow in many different climates, including the UK and Ireland. But if you don’t want to take your chances on wild mushrooms (we recommend you don’t unless you really know what you’re doing) then luckily, it’s now getting easier to find them in supermarkets, farmers markets and restaurants.
How they grow
Growing oyster mushrooms commercially involves recreating very specific conditions in a specialised environment. Unlike regular white or chestnut mushrooms that grow in compost, oyster mushrooms grow on a vertical incline. In nature, they’re often found growing on dead standing trees or fallen logs. In fact, they were first cultivated in war-torn Germany after the first world war, as a way to help feed the population.
On mushroom farms, oyster mushrooms are grown on a medium of chopped wheat straw or wood sawdust that has been formed into large blocks wrapped in a thin plastic sheet. The medium is pasteurised to eliminate harmful germs and then the mushroom spawn is added.
As well as tasting delicious, oyster mushrooms have an impressive range of health-boosting properties and contain lots of powerful plant compounds. In fact, they’ve been used in traditional medicine for many centuries.
Rich in protein and B vitamins while also containing no cholesterol. They may promote heart and immune system health, while also providing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Prep and cook
Before cooking, it’s best not to wash your oyster mushrooms because they already contain a lot of water, and this can impair the texture and flavour. If you’ve bought commercially grown mushrooms, they’ll already be sterile, so you can simply brush off any dirt.
- When it comes to cooking your delicate mushrooms, it’s important to be gentle so they don’t stick to the pan or turn to mush! You can get creative with your cooking – sauté, fry, grill or roast your mushrooms. You can cook them whole, chop or slice any way you like.
- Marinate! Mushrooms absorb flavour, so you can make them work in any cuisine. For a Chinese inspired meal marinade in soy sauce, honey, and sesame seed oil. For an Italian flavour, garlic and chilli work well.
- One of the most popular way to cook oyster mushrooms is to sauté them gently in butter or oil with garlic and herbs. Thyme, rosemary and sage add a wonderful earthy flavour while chives and coriander add a more refreshing kick.
Whatever way you cook them, give them plenty of space to allow the water to evaporate, otherwise they can go soggy.
The perfect sautéed oyster mushrooms
Sometimes simple is best. Try this recipe for serving as a side dish, stirred through pasta or piled on toasted crusty bread:
300g oyster mushrooms
5 cloves of garlic, diced
5 tablespoons of butter
½ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of black pepper
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil or 4 tablespoons of butter on medium-high heat.
2. Add the mushrooms.
3. Add the salt and pepper immediately to draw out the water from the mushrooms.
4. Cook until the mushrooms are softened and sizzling.
5. Add a spoonful of butter and chopped garlic.
6. Cook until the garlic is browned, and the mushrooms look cooked through.
7. Voilà garlic butter mushrooms in 5 minutes or less.
Other recipes we love
Easy mushroom stir-fry: https://woonheng.com/mushrooms-stir-fry/
Beef in oyster sauce: https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/beefinoystersauce_89263
Oyster Mushrooms with Blue Cheese Sauce: – https://www.ocado.com/webshop/recipe/oyster-mushrooms-with-blue-cheese-sauce/131573