While out this week, I found several Tricholoma caligata (left). I have never eaten one because the general consensus among the ‘shroomers I know is that it is too bitter. Michael Kuo on www.mushroomexpert.com agrees on that point. However, you can find instances of mycophiles stating they are edible and good. In fact, Susan Mitchell has a recipe for Marinated Tricholoma and Pasta Delight in the Field to Field-to-Kitchen Guide by Fischer and Bessette (see my sidebar link “Books”). The book speculates that there may be varieties with a range of bitterness. I decided to try and make sense of this.
The human palate tastes sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. In addition we taste what is called umami by the Japanese and “savory” in our food culture. Creating foods with full bodied, complex flavors involves a combination of all five tastes, as well as aroma. Hence, I decided to treat the slightly bitter mushroom I had found as I would bitter salad greens. After some musing, I remembered the gyoza (dumpling) sauce in the fridge. It has a soy base and contains, among other ingrediants, salt, sugar,and vinegar as well as umami from the fermented soybeans. So,with a little olive oil and butter I sautéed chopped T. caligata and then added dumpling sauce (from any Asian market) and let them cook a bit longer until frond began to form, and then I deglazed with a bit of red wine. The taste was excellent. Looking back at Susan’s marinade one could see that she also used a mix of the five tastes in her marinade. Lesson: We may be missing excellent mushroom fare it we don’t considered the chemistry of taste.
I also found a patch of Rozites caparata, The Gypsy. They are delicious and worth being on the lookout for them. I simply sautéed mine with butter/oil and added a splash of Worcestershire sauce, soy, and red wine. Served them with a good Porterhouse. I get the loin portion and Ellen gets the filet portion. I thought they were great, but Ellen didn’t care for the texture. They cooked down thin and soft. Oh well, I ate them all.
There are still a lot of good mushrooms showing up !!!!