Monday 5 December 2011

Going wild for mushrooms

                                Wild Mushrooms     by

Borough Market is one of my favourite places in London. Whenever I can, I pop down there on Fridays to get some delicious stuff. This Friday, I couldn’t resist the wild mushrooms at Turnips. They have been selling beautiful ones for years. I have always been fascinated by them. Some (like the Shaggy Parasol or Cep) look like props for Alice in Wonderland. I asked the seller to choose a selection for my risotto - rice and wild mushrooms are a perfect marriage.

Foraging is becoming very popular in the UK, and one of the most popular pickings are wild mushrooms. Make sure the person you are buying the wild mushrooms from is really knowledgeable and reliable, and you should only forage for mushrooms with someone who really knows how to distinguish the edible ones from the poisonous ones - some of them are known as death caps!

Most mushrooms we find in supermarkets are grown with the use of chemical fertilizers. Try and buy organic whenever possible.

There are many different species and ways of preparing them. Mushrooms have plenty of immunological benefits. Some people prefer to eat them raw but the best way is to actually cook them, as this will destroy the toxins that are present in all edible mushrooms.

On that note, I am off to cook mushrooms for tonight’s dinner.

Wild mushrooms display in Borough Market
Basket of Ceps
Basket of assorted wild mushrooms 
Basket of Portobella mushrooms
Oyster mushrooms in the background growing in
its own habitat
Oyster pink, King Oyster (Bolete), Shiitake, Enoki
My risotto selection: Chanterelles, Black Trompette,
Giroles, Pied Mouton and Blewit
Dried Porcini mushrooms soaked in boiling water
Brush them clean using a mushroom brush or a soft
Ghee, shallots, garlic, white wine, parsley and
pecorino cheese
My wild mushroom risotto! It was yum!
Wild mushroom risotto
Serves 4

Delicious, seasonal and healthy! Mushrooms are great protein source for vegetarians and vegans.

15g ghee or butter, plus another 20g to finish
2 small shallots (or 4 mini ones), finely chopped. You can also use onion instead
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
A pinch of dried porcini, soaked in boiling water (optional)
180-200g of wild mushrooms, brushed clean
150g Carnaroli or Vialone risotto rice
175ml of white wine
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
30g pecorino cheese, grated
A small bunch of parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

Melt the ghee or butter in a pan and gently cook the shallots. Don't let them burn, just let them become soft and sweet. It takes about 5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and cook for 2 min, then add the garlic and cook until softened. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook gently. When the mushrooms have softened slightly, turn up the heat and add the rice. Stir well to coat the rice and season with some more salt and pepper. Cook for a minute before pouring in the wine.

Stir well; allow the wine to become absorbed before you add your first ladle of hot stock. Let the rice and stock cook gently, stirring occasionally until it begins to look as though the stock has been absorbed, then add the next ladle. Continue to do this until the rice becomes softer and the sauce looks creamy. Then start tasting the grains. Check for seasoning but also feel their texture. If they are al dente, turn off the heat. Don’t worry if you didn’t use all the stock (or if you used it all just add some boiling water).

Stir in the rest of the ghee, pecorino cheese and parsley. Check for seasoning.

Serve on warmed plates! Enjoy!

Some of the ingredients and their healthy benefits

Mushrooms: Golden Chanterelle (Cantharellus), Black Trompette (Craterellus Cornucopioides), Girolle (Cantharellus Cibarius), Blewit (Lepista Clitocybe), Pied de Mouton (Hydnum Repandum) are all good sources of B vitamins such as B2, B3 and B5. They contain the minerals selenium, copper and potassium. Mushrooms have been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine, in several parts of the world especially in Asia.

A study made by Japanese researchers 30 years ago has shown that compounds found in mushrooms can be used for the treatment of cancer. Mushrooms increase white blood cell count and act as anticoagulants. Well-known medicinal mushrooms, like Cordyceps, Reishi, Shiitake and Maitake have long being used as remedy for liver disorders, hypertension and arthritis disorders.

Mushrooms can boost stamina and vitality. They can also promote normal lung function and support cognitive function. According to Paul Pitchford, the Chinese Ganoderma (Ling Zhi) mushroom tonifies immunity best and have a strong effect against tumors and cancers. 

The biggest myth about Candida is that eating mushrooms will make it worse. 
On the contrary, mushrooms are an excellent part of the diet for those with Candida and IBS sufferers. They can be useful in the fight against Candida Albicans. Scientific research has shown that some mushrooms are Candida-killers, help the immune system fight Candida Albicans and are excellent for Candida infection.

For more on their medicinal benefits, click here. For more info about mushroom picking, click here. Also if you want to watch an interesting TED talk by famous American mycologist and author Paul Stamets click here

Till next week!



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