Introduction by Sara Johnson
Often used as a stand-in for meat, the hearty, umami-filled mushroom is an ingredient worthy of celebration on its own merits. U.S.-grown mushrooms exceed $1.2 billion in sales annually, and the fungi pack a vitamin and antioxidant punch (including vitamin D and potassium). The plants may have longer-term effects as well: a study published in 2019 reported that eating mushrooms may decrease the risk of mild cognitive impairment in adults over 60. And these forest gems are extra delicious when cooked sous vide, which brings out their earthy flavor. From maitake to lion’s mane to chanterelles, mushrooms come in many shapes and sizes suitable for dishes from soups to tacos—even coffee.
With an appearance that looks a bit like a wind-blown umbrella, chanterelles are often yellow-tinged with large gills. The flavor is frequently described as peppery. Fresh chanterelles enhance dishes from pasta to pizza.
Also known as hen-of-the-woods, this flower-like fungus is as pretty as it is tasty, with a meaty flavor. Sautéed, grilled, or roasted, it’s a flavorful addition to a variety of dishes.
As the name suggests, the golden enoki is a darker version of the pure white enoki mushroom, but produces a similar flavor. A common ingredient in Asian dishes like hotpots and stir-fries, enokis can be served raw or lightly cooked.
With a long, thick stem and a chewy texture, the king oyster is often used as a vegetarian substitute for scallops, as in our King Oyster “Scallops” with Parsnip Purée.
The lion’s mane mushroom is a white fungus with an almost fur-like appearance. Because of the mushroom’s distinctive texture, it is sometimes cooked in patties for a vegetarian take on crab cakes. It is also sold as powder and capsules claiming to improve memory and mental focus.
Brown shiitake mushrooms add a rich flavor to foods. Use reconstituted dried shiitake mushrooms for soup or sauce bases, while sautéed fresh shiitakes are an excellent toast topper.
This article originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Sous-Vide magazine.
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