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|Food Buzz: History of Mushrooms|
Abalone mushrooms are medium to large in size and are irregular and oblong with a vase-like shape averaging 5-25 centimeters in diameter. The skin is ivory to white and is smooth, silky, plump, and firm with small golden lines and perforations found throughout the surface with many gills under the cap. The cream-colored flesh is crisp, dense, and spongy with a meaty texture. When cooked, Abalone mushrooms are slippery and velvety with an earthy, buttery flavor with notes of pepper.
Abalone mushrooms are available year-round, with peak season in the winter.
Abalone mushrooms, botanically classified as Pleurotus ostreatus, are an oyster variety and are members of the Pleurotaceae family. Also known as White Elf, King mushroom, and the Akuratake mushroom, Abalone mushrooms are named after the aquatic shellfish, abalone, because of their similarity in appearance. Abalone mushrooms are extremely popular in Asian cuisine and are a staple ingredient in stir-fries and soups. They are also commonly used as a meat substitute in vegetarian dishes and are favored for their substantial texture and buttery, rich flavor.
Abalone mushrooms are a good source of dietary fiber, iron, phosphorus, and some antioxidants.
Abalone mushrooms are best suited for cooked applications such as steaming, frying, searing, broiling, grilling, poaching, and roasting. The Abalone's subtle flavor is best when not overcooked, but it is also not considered fully edible when raw. They are popularly used in stir-fries, both green and coconut curries, soups, stews, and teriyaki. They can also be breaded and fried as a substitute for real abalone or canned for extended use. Abalone mushrooms pair well with tomatoes, Calabria peppers, snap peas, eggplant, baby corn, water chestnuts, watercress, arugula, fennel, olives, capers, garlic, onions, shallots, ginger, tofu, shrimp, prawns, clams, pork, prosciutto, poultry, truffle oil, grena padano cheese, and lentils. They will keep up to seven days when stored in a dry place such as a paper bag in the refrigerator.
Abalone mushrooms require special growing conditions to meet its nutritional needs. Unlike green plants, mushrooms are void of chlorophyll, requiring outside sources of food. These food sources are plant-based materials known as substrates, which vary from wood logs, several types of straws, types of organic plant waste materials, to dying and dead trees, especially Alder trees. Tiny threads spread from the mushroom’s fruiting body and feed on substrates, collecting nutrients necessary for growth and survival, at the expense of the plant material.
Abalone mushrooms are native to China and are still found growing wild in the modern day. Commercially cultivated Abalone mushrooms began in Hungary and are also heavily cultivated in the United States in California, Oregon, and Washington, and in parts of China. Today Abalone mushrooms are found at specialty grocers and farmers markets in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
Recipes that include Abalone Mushrooms. One is easiest, three is harder.