Thursday, May 17, 2012

King Oyster Mushrooms with Bok Choy Rice Noodles


I stopped by Union Square Greenmarket on Monday morning for a little cooking inspiration. The market nearest me is lacking in newness lately, so I was looking to find something unique in Union Square. It never disappoints.

Any time I see an unidentifiable item, I'm drawn to it. Sometimes I might know what it is, but if I've never cooked with it, it calls for me to try. I was hoping to find some peas or other green and springy foods on Monday, but it's still a little early in the season. I found myself drawn to the mushrooms at Madura farms instead. I always check the mushroom displays. Nine out of ten times the contents of the boxes are entirely predictable: Oyster, Shiitake, Cremini. BOH-ring. But this time there were some new players: Maitake, King Oyster, and Lingzhi.

Hmmm... Maitake I've heard of, but not sure what flavors it goes with. King Oyster I've had and liked, but only deep-fried. And Lingzhi? Just the name sounds threatening, like I probably should stay away at least while I'm pregnant! Now is not the time to experiment too wildly - so I compromised and bought a couple big King Oyster mushrooms.

As soon as I forked over fourteen dollars for two servings of mushrooms, I decided I had to make the most of them. I guessed that three experiments would be enough to find one that works well enough to make again. This way I can plan ahead next time, with a recipe in mind, before I spend serious coin on fungus.
King Oyster mushroom, bok choy, scallions, garlic, ginger and tomatoes
For my first experiment I focused more on cooking the mushrooms than coming up with an original recipe. I wanted to do something easy and obvious just to try my hand at preparing them, and not be too disappointed and hungry if I failed. I found a recipe for Bok Choy Noodles from the New York Times that I can proudly say, I actually had ALL the ingredients on hand to make... ok, with some minor revisions. I haven't cooked Asian in a while, but somehow my pantry was still at the ready.

All the pantry fixings for a good noodle bowl
As for the mushrooms, I read up on how to slice and sear them. Very similar to scallops. I used real butter, just to be safe. Maybe I cooked them too long, about 6-8 minutes waiting for them to brown perfectly. I found them tough. A little dry. Thank goodness I was just tossing them into a giant pot of noodles. Can't go wrong with a big bowl of rice stick and veg!

Seared King Oyster Mushrooms
Wipe mushrooms with a damp cloth to remove dirt. Slice into 1/4" thick rounds. Heat butter (and a little canola oil) and minced garlic in a skillet over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the mushrooms and cook 2 minutes on each side until browned. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pan.

Cut into 1/4" rounds
Sear in butter and garlic

Stir-Fried Rice Stick Noodles With Bok Choy and Cherry TomatoesRecipe from New York Times. 
 *I used vegetable stock, rice wine vinegar instead of sherry, omitted the egg, and added cooked scallions. I felt the need to add lime juice to the dish, and for anything other than mild palettes, you need some chili-garlic paste or sriracha / hot sauce. 


Have all the ingredients at the ready to toss into the pan quickly

The mild noodle dish shows off the mushrooms

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