Oh, that mushroom guy! I can’t turn away from his siren song. Once again, I was walking by his stall at the farmer’s market, minding my own business, intent only on buying a carton of eggs, when I heard him instructing a customer to tear up their mushrooms rather than cutting them, because the uneven edges will produce a more satisfying texture when cooked.
Huh? I swiveled in his direction to listen to the rest of the conversation. And there, on his table, were containers of completely new mushrooms–ones I’d never seen before.
White fringy pom-pom sort of things, like those fuzzy balls on the back of sports socks back in grade school, but about the size of my fist.
“People say they taste like lobster,” he went on.
I moved in for a closer inspection. The mushroom guy smiled, his freckle-face as open and friendly as a grown-up boy scout. “They’re called Lion’s Mane Mushrooms,” he said.
There’s just something about this mushroom vendor and his wares that I cannot resist. Yes, I love mushrooms. But it’s more than that. It’s his earnest, wholesome appearance, like an enterprising young fellow from a 1950’s movie–one who grows mushrooms, sells newspapers, and mows lawns to put himself through college. It’s also the mild frisson of science fiction-fueled suspicion that any young man selling weird-looking mushrooms might, just might, be inadvertently working for the alien pod people. You know, to spread their spores?
Well, if you read old-school sci-fi, you know. I feel a little shiver of delighted, hopeful fear every time I approach that table.
Anyway, the combination is irresistible. I came away with a paper bag full of Lion’s Mane mushrooms.
After rinsing them and tearing them up as per instructions, I sautéed the mushrooms in butter and garlic, then liberally salted and peppered. They had a pleasant, bland flavor, which accepts seasoning well. While their flavor is not particularly reminiscent of seafood, the texture of the cooked mushrooms is very much like lobster—firm and dense. Next time, I’d like to sauté them in olive oil and white wine, with a bit of garlic and chili powder.
If you see Lion’s Mane mushrooms for sale in your grocery store or farmer’s market, give them a try. The risk of colonization by the pod people is relatively low.