Photo: So Delicious
There are so many mushroom types and endless ways you can cook them. We’re here to talk about the most popular ones. Some of them are wild species, but most of the following are cultivated mushrooms. But all are amazingly tasty and I’ll tell you their best uses in the kitchen.
If I’m ever going to write a children’s book, I think my characters will be mushrooms. They have personality, they come in different shapes, they’re amazingly cute and I do feel attached to some of them. Let me explain. Everything started – of course! – in my childhood, when I used to take long walks on the field behind my house after rainfall. Some of the treasures I would find at that time were wild mushrooms and eggs. It was such a joy to come home with my top folded like a bag, full of chanterelle or other wild mushrooms, like fairy ring mushrooms or honey mushrooms. Sometimes I was so lucky that I even found wild morels, one of the most desired wild mushrooms in the world! This could even be the beginning of my mushroom storybook.
Even if you don’t have a place of your own to pick wild mushrooms, you can enjoy many of them, because mushrooms are cultivated in at least 60 countries. China, Italy, the United States, Netherlands, and Poland are the top five producers.
Mushrooms are high in fiber and vitamins. They’re very versatile and a good source of protein for vegetarians. With so many types of mushrooms, the recipes are endless. Here are the most common 10 mushrooms and some of their characteristics.
10 of the most common mushroom types
1. White button mushroom
Also known as: able mushroom, cultivated mushroom, button, table mushroom, and champignon mushroom.
Agaricus bisporus is an edible mushroom which has two color states while immature – white and brown – both of which have various names. When mature, it is known as portobello mushroom.
White button mushroom is the immature and white variety. It’s the most common and mildest-tasting from all the mushroom types.
90 percent of the mushrooms we eat are of this variety. Its flavor is mild, and that makes it more versatile. It can be eaten either raw or cooked and works well in soups, stews, salads, and on pizzas.
2. Crimini mushroom
Also known as: when immature and brown, Agaricus bisporus may be known as Cremino mushroom, Swiss brown mushroom, Roman brown mushroom, Italian brown mushroom, classic brown mushroom, or chestnut mushroom.
Criminis are young portobello mushrooms, also sold as baby portobellos, and they’re just more mature white button mushrooms. Crimini and white button mushrooms are interchangeable. They are similar in shape, but may be slightly bigger in size and darker in color: crimini have a light shade of brown.
3. Portobello mushroom
Also known as: field mushroom, or open cap mushroom.
Mushrooms of this variety are as wide as the palm of your hand. Portobello mushrooms are dense in texture and have a rich taste. In Italy, they’re used in sauces and pasta and make a great meat substitute. Also, if you want a bread bun-substitute, you can even use the mushroom’s flat cap. They’re perfect for grilling and stuffing.
4. Shiitake mushroom
Also known as: Shitake, black forest, black winter, brown oak, Chinese black, black mushroom, oriental black, forest mushroom, golden oak, Donko.
Shiitake are mushrooms that grow mainly in Japan, China, and Korea, which is one of the reasons they are so predominant in Asian cuisine. In Japanese, shiitake means ‘oak fungus,’ but these days most shiitakes are cultivated. They have a light woodsy flavor and aroma, while their dried counterparts are more intense. They are savory and meaty and can be used to top meat dishes and to enhance soups and sauces. Shiitake can be found both fresh and dried.
5. Oyster mushroom
Also known as: Pleurotus, tree oyster, angel’s wings, pleurotte en huître, abalone mushroom.
Oyster mushrooms are a species of Pleurotus and they can be found in the wild, growing on the sides of trees. Nowadays they’re some of the most commonly cultivated edible mushrooms in the world. The king trumpet mushroom is the largest species in the oyster mushroom genus.
They are simple to cook and offer a delicate and sweet flavor. They’re used especially in a stir-fry or sauté because they are consistently thin, and so will cook more evenly than other mushrooms.
6. Enoki mushroom
Also known as: Enokitake, enokidake, futu mushroom, winter mushrooms, winter fungus, golden needle mushroom, or lily mushroom.
Enoki mushrooms are available fresh or canned. Experts recommend consuming fresh enoki specimens with firm, white, shiny caps, rather than those with slimy or brownish stalks that are best avoided. They’re good raw and they’re common in Asian cooking. Because they’re crisp, they hold up well in soups and go well in salads, but you can also use them in other dishes.
7. Chanterelle mushroom
Also known as: Golden, yellow, chanterelle, egg mushroom, girolle, pfifferling
Chanterelles are among the most popular species of wild mushrooms. They are orange, yellow or white, meaty and trumpet-shaped. Because they’re difficult to cultivate, chanterelles are usually foraged in the wild. They’re common in many European cuisines, including French and Austrian, and are also native to the United States.
Some species have a fruity odor, others a more woody, earthy fragrance, and still others can even be considered spicy. They are delicate in flavor and texture, work well fried or sautéed in butter, oil or cream. You can use them as a starter topping, on bruschetta or you can combine them with eggs. They also go well in soufflés, cream sauces, soups, or pasta.
There also are black trumpet mushrooms, also known as black chanterelle, horn of plenty, or trumpet of the dead. Black trumpets have a rich, smoky flavor and notes of a black truffle mushroom when dried.
8. Porcini mushroom
Also known as: Porcino mushroom, Cèpe, bolete, king bolete, borowik, Polish mushroom, Steinpilz, stensopp, or penny bun.
A meaty mushroom similar to the portobello, the porcini are mushroom types often used in Italian cuisine. Its flavor has been described as nutty and slightly meaty, with a smooth, creamy texture, and a distinctive aroma reminiscent of sourdough. Fresh porcinis aren’t as easy to find in the United States, but dried ones are easily reconstituted by soaking in hot water for at least 15 minutes before cooking with them. They’re good sautéed with butter, ground into pasta, in soups, risottos, and in many other dishes. They are also one of the few mushroom species pickled and sold commercially.
9. Shimeji Mushroom
Also known as: Several species are sold as shimeji mushrooms, including buna-shimeji, and bunapi-shimeji.
Shimeji should always be cooked: it is not a good mushroom to serve raw due to a somewhat bitter taste. Its bitterness disappears completely when cooked, and the mushrooms turn slightly nutty in flavor. This is one of those mushroom types that works well in stir-fried dishes, in soups, stews, and sauces.
10. Morel Mushroom
Also known as: morchella.
Out of all the mushroom types, these distinctive fungi have a honeycomb appearance on their cap. Morels are prized by gourmet cooks, particularly in French cuisine, because they are super savory and delicious. Due to difficulties in cultivation, commercial harvesting of wild morels has become a multimillion-dollar industry in the temperate Northern Hemisphere, in particular in North America, Turkey, China, the Himalayas, India, and Pakistan, where these highly prized fungi are found in abundance.
One of the best and simplest ways to enjoy morels is by gently sautéeing them in butter, then season them with salt and pepper. They are a little chewy and taste great. Serve them with meat and poultry, or add them to soups, or in pasta fillings.