Fungi, or mushrooms as they’re commonly known, are neither plants nor animals. Instead, they’re part of an entirely different kingdom of life. This makes them rather interesting. Unlike plants, their cells don’t have rigid walls, and this is what gives them a very different texture to the rest of the veg in your refrigerator. It’s also what makes them a nightmare to cook. Here’s how to get cooking mushrooms right.
If They’re Dirty, Don’t Wash Them
Mushrooms are little mud-dwelling creatures. As a result, when you get them from the supermarket or pick them out of the ground, it’s not unusual for the stems or the gills to be covered in mud. You might think that it’s a good idea to wash your mushrooms to remove the dirt, but this is just about the worst thing you can do according to chefs. Remember those soft cell walls? Well, they tend to soak up all the moisture they come into contact with, especially mushrooms that have been picked from the wild. Mushrooms are a little bit like sponges, and so if you do wash them, they’ll end up soggy, ruining the flavor.
Instead of running them under the tap, brush them with a pastry brush or use Kamikoto knives to gently scrape the mud from the surface. Even if they go in the pan a little bit dirty, it’s not the end of the world. If there are any nasty bacteria – which is unlikely – it’ll all be killed in the cooking process.
Cook Them On A High Heat
Mushrooms are only about 19 calories per 100 grams, making them one of the least energy-dense foods in the world. As a result, they contain a lot of water. Some people recommend cooking mushrooms on slow, but all this does is cause them to leach water and go rubbery – not nice. It’s a much better idea, therefore, to cook them in a little fat on high heat. Mushrooms will then simmer in their own water until they are cooked. Don’t remove the mushrooms from the pan until all the water has evaporated off.
Mushrooms are versatile little creates. But it’s worth pointing out that you don’t always have to slice them. In fact, if you’ve got field or portobello mushrooms, an excellent idea is to bake them in a baking tray with a little garlic paste, salt, and pepper. Cooking mushrooms whole helps to lock in all that moisture, making sure that every bite is succulent and delicious.
Cook Just A Few At A Time
It might seem like a good idea to just chop up a bunch of mushrooms and throw them in the pan. But because they all give off so much water, the pan can end up getting waterlogged. If you’ve got a lot of mushrooms, it’s often a better idea to cook them in batches. Make sure that the puddle that forms under each piece of mushroom doesn’t leak out and cover the whole pan. If it does, you’ll end up with tough, rubbery mushrooms that have lost their flavor.