Ian Garrone manages San Fran’s Far West Fungi, the retail outlet of his family’s mushroom farm; here are his ‘shroom picks for the kitchen.
1. Specific to the Pacific Northwest—predominantly the California coast between Santa Cruz and Mendocino County—the Candy Cap mushroom lends sweet maple syrup and spicy, nutty tones to desserts like ice cream (recipe below) and crème brûlée.
2. Although it’s typically found growing out of tree knots all over the world, Lion’s Mane is most heavily cultivated in China. Its spongy crabmeat texture and mild earthy flavor make it a popular addition to Asian soups and stir-fry.
3. One of the most aggressive spawning varieties, the French Blewit (also known as Blue Leg) is also one of the most pungent: Add just a few to risotto to infuse its rich gamey, earthy mushroom notes.
4. A close relative to the wild Fried Chicken variety, the cultivated version known as Shimeji is found most regularly in both Asia and the States. Its shellfish flavor enhances miso soup and complements seafood.
5. Found growing on hardwood in regions like Hawaii, Wood Ear is a variety you’ve probably tried without even knowing: Its subtle earthy flavor and chewiness give texture to Chinese dishes like Moo Shu pork and hot-and-sour soup.
6. The Italian Pioppini variety is the perfect replacement for porcini: With its nutty, spicy flavor and crunchiness, this all-purpose mushroom works in any dish, though its durable texture makes it a great fit for slow-cooked stews.
MAKE IT: Candy Cap Mushroom Ice Cream (yes, for real, mushroom ice cream!)
(recipe by Chef Alan Kantor/MacCallum House)
1/4 cup packed dried candy cap mushrooms
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1. Place candy caps, heavy cream and milk in a sauce pan and scald over medium heat. While scalding, put yolks in a bowl with sugar and whisk together until thick and smooth. Ready a metal bowl with ice in it, and another metal bowl with a fine mesh strainer over it set on top of the bowl with ice.
2. Temper the scalded cream by drizzling hot cream into yolks slowly, whisking yolks constantly, until about 1/3 of cream is in the yolks. Stir the tempered mixture back into the remaining scalded cream, then cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a tempered rubber spatula until slightly thickened, just under 175 degrees on an instant thermometer. Immediately pour through the strainer, pressing the mushrooms into the strainer with the spatula to extract all their liquid. Stir the mixture until cool.
3. Put into an ice cream machine and freeze using the manufacturer’s instructions.