I love mushrooms, but my knowledge of recognizing them and picking them in its natural surrounding is limited. Unlike protocol for mushroom poisoning, that I know…
In my hometown of Split and it’s surroundings we were not used to go mushroom foraging. If we saw one, we were advised to leave area immediately, you never know if it provokes headache just staying in its surroundings.
We listened to stories about foragers who picked the wrong mushroom and their terrible faith, or those who gave a cat a spoonful of their dish, and when hours later cat started to cramp, they rushed to emergency and had their stomach pumped only to find, hours later, their beloved pet healthy and with the new litter of kittens.
I was worried why people even bothered to picked them? Isn’t it safer to play Russian roulette?
When our dad brought first store-bought mushrooms (with barcode and declaration on the etiquette) in the plastic container, I was still apprehensive, until mum skillfully cleaned them and filled each cap with parsley, garlic and cooked it on the grill. The sip of soup gathered inside mushroom cap was so intense, flavorful and completely exotic for me.
Love for the new food group grew stronger when I moved to the continental part of Croatia filled with all sorts of mushrooms. They were sold on the market on the regular basis. My kitchen skills grew and recipes blossomed with new kind of mushroom I’ve tasted. Even on our wedding day we wanted our kind of surf and turf dish, so I suggested funghi porcini risotto to represent continental Slovenia and scampi tagliatelle for coastal Croatia.
I carefully avoided buying the mushroom freshly picked by the road, finally nowadays stores have large choice of forest mushrooms so you can safely cook and invent new dishes or stay in your comfort zone with the standard ones. Funghi porcini, chanterelles, shitake, Portobello, button…available ready to cook.
Last year our puppy Rico made me explore nearby woods. We saw falcons, deers, squirrels, but no single berry or mushroom. This year, our puppy is a medium sized dog (by the breeders, extraordinary big hound, by my standards) who is happy to go and run after a deer (now exclusively on the leash, I did learn my lesson) and jump after falcons, and squirrels.
In all this forest activity I almost missed a rather big solitary mushroom. Big cap, with rough brown surface, on the high stalk with a particular skirt. I picked two for neighbor expertise.
From that day my love for parasol mushroom have started. Very tasty kind and if you know all the particular distinct features, you can’t go wrong and pick a poisonous one.
Next day we walked the dog together, and there I saw master in her natural surroundings. X-raying the area, not minding the thick bushes and forest undergrowth, she located them as we went, not slowing our walk in any way. She picked them carefully placing them even more gently in the paper bag. She told me earlier that morning, to either bring the paper bag or basket, plastic bag was not an option. Quick thought ran through my mind, thick forest, wolves have been spotted 20 km to the south, I had pink hood… no way, children stories have left some unpleasant memories.
We picked just enough for us. I like this idea of sustainable foraging. Pick as much as you need even if it was way under law limit.
Its scientific name is Macrolepiota procera, the linguists called it in many languages parasol, or something associated with sun protection. But in Slovenia it’s translation is umbrella…yes we have a good share of rain.
Italians love parasol mushroom fried, adding a bit of parmesan cheese in egg mixture, mmm that I ‘d like to try.
Following two recipes are easiest in the world. I’m not sure I should call them recipes at all.
Pan seared parasol mushrooms
I don’t want to write exact quantities, depends how lucky you are, and how many have you found or bought.
For 4 persons ( 4 mushrooms approximately 10 cm in diameter)
Remove the stalks, wipe the caps with damp cloth, (it is not advised to wash the mushrooms, they get soggy) check the gills for possible “guests”. Cut the caps in pieces, fry them in little olive oil, season them with salt and pepper. They were delicious, silky, flavorful, pan searing gave them thin layer of crunch, heavenly. I was a bit inquisitive so I added a knob of butter in my next batch(can’t go wrong with butter) and than a little bit of parsley and garlic (very careful with garlic, love the stuff but here we have some delicate shades of flavors, garlic may overshadow them. Upgraded mushrooms found their way on (a day old) rustic bread grilled as a bruschetta. What a brunch, skip a butter and it is delicious vegan or (with the butter) vegetarian dish.
Fried parasol mushrooms (clean the caps delicately the same way as described).
Beat three eggs, two tablespoons of parsley, and three tablespoons of grated parmesan, season with salt and pepper.
Dip the dry cap into the mixture, than in breadcrumbs, leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.
Fry them in olive oil (just cover the bottom of your pan) until golden brown, serve them and enjoy!