Dried Lobster Mushrooms
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|Food Buzz: History of Mushrooms|
Dried Lobster mushrooms are gnarled and contorted with an irregular appearance. The caps are typically flat, shriveled, and slightly curled, sometimes sliced into smaller pieces before dehydrating, and there are little to no stems present. The surface of the dried cap is textured, rough, granular, and brittle, showcasing mottled hues of dark red, rust orange, and golden ivory. When Dried Lobster mushrooms are reconstituted, they develop a dense, firm, and meaty texture with a chewy mouthfeel. Rehydrated Lobster mushrooms also emit a faint seafood-like aroma and have a concentrated flavor with nutty, fruity, and earthy nuances.
Dried Lobster mushrooms are available year-round.
Dried Lobster mushrooms, botanically classified as Hypomyces lactifluorum, are dehydrated, concentrated versions of a fresh mushroom infected with a parasitic fungus belonging to the Hypocreaceae family. Despite their mushroom moniker, Lobster mushrooms are not actual mushrooms but a fungus that feeds off a host mushroom, altering its chemical composition. Throughout this symbiotic process, the host mushroom, initially considered flavorless, improves in taste and texture when transformed, creating a desirable, rare, and edible delicacy. Lobster mushrooms feed on two main species: the brittle white mushroom, Russula brevipes, and the peppery milkcap mushroom, Lactarius piperatus. In addition to changing the flavor of the host mushroom, the parasitic fungus causes the mushrooms to develop colorful orange, red, and white hues, a trait highly favored among chefs and mushroom enthusiasts as this coloring imparts a faint tint into cooked dishes. Lobster mushrooms are only found wild, foraged from temperate forests, and are considered a rare dried mushroom compared to other mushrooms available in commercial markets. Drying Lobster mushrooms concentrates the fungus’s flavor and extends its shelf life, allowing the scarce seasonal mushrooms to be used year-round.
Lobster mushrooms contain some fiber to regulate the digestive tract, potassium to balance fluid levels within the body, and copper to develop healthy connective tissues. The mushrooms also provide lower amounts of B vitamins, vitamin D to stimulate bone growth, vitamin K to assist in faster wound healing, and other nutrients such as selenium and zinc.
Dried Lobster mushrooms have a concentrated nutty, rich, and subtle fruity flavor with a distinct marine-like aroma. The dried mushrooms can be ground into a powder and mixed with other spices to make rubs for meat, or they can be sprinkled over seafood, stirred into soups and stews, or mixed into sauces and gravies. Beyond grinding into a powder, Dried Lobster mushrooms are most popularly rehydrated to develop a dense, meaty texture. The mushrooms should be soaked in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes, and once reconstituted, they can be added to a variety of savory dishes. Rehydrated Lobster mushrooms can be added to stocks, stews, curries, and soups, browned in fatty elements and served with meats, or chopped into casseroles, rice dishes, baked pasta dishes, and macaroni and cheese. One of the distinguishing characteristics of Dried Lobster mushrooms is they hold their shape well in sautéed, braised, and baked preparations. It is important to note that the red-orange coloring of the fungus will bleed when heated, creating a rich hue, especially in sauces, pasta, and rice-based dishes. The mushrooms can also be incorporated into vegetable sautés, combined into egg-based dishes, and cooked with aromatics and finely chopped into a paste-like mixture. Chopped Lobster mushrooms can be spread over toast, folded into meats, or stuffed into pasta. Dried Lobster mushrooms pair well with meats such as beef, pork, lamb, and poultry, seafood including crab, fish, and shrimp, aromatics such as onions, garlic, ginger, and shallots, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, and herbs such as parsley, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. Unwashed, Dried Lobster mushrooms will keep for several years when stored in a sealed container at room temperature away from direct sunlight. Once rehydrated, Lobster mushrooms should be used immediately for the best quality and flavor.
Dried Lobster mushrooms develop a distinctive marine-like aroma once they are reconstituted, and this is one of the explanations for how the mushrooms acquired their memorable name. Experts believe this scent may be due to the fact that Lobster mushrooms are a parasitic fungus that feeds off other host mushrooms, creating a different composition within the dried fungus. When the dried mushroom is rehydrated, they retain their dense, chewy nature and emit a subtle aroma that consumers often liken to shellfish. This trait has led Lobster mushrooms to become a popular, more sustainable seafood alternative in vegetarian and vegan cuisine. Currently, the United States is home to the most vegan seafood start-up companies, and there is a movement to create quality-tasting seafood alternatives with nutritional benefits similar to actual seafood. Lobster mushrooms are popular for vegan lobster rolls, tacos, and lobster bisque.
Lobster mushrooms are native to North America and grow wild in temperate forests across the Pacific Northwest, the Northern United States, New England, the Rocky Mountains, and Canada. The mushrooms are a parasitic fungus that traditionally feeds off other organisms, specifically Russula and Lactarius mushrooms. Today Lobster mushrooms are foraged from the wild and are not typically cultivated due to their complicated parasitic nature. The mushrooms are dried for extended use and are sold through online retailers, specialty distributors, select farmer’s markets, and grocers in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Recipes that include Dried Lobster Mushrooms. One is easiest, three is harder.
|The Good Cook||Lobster Mushroom Stuffing|
|Fat Free Vegan Kitchen||Tofu with Lobster Mushrooms in Ginger Broth|