Fall is the best season for mushroom hunting.
In late September, my wife and I are heading out to a forest in the Great Fall area in
Virginia. Our plan is to find some nice hen of the woods mushrooms. Probably because of the dry weather, we find
nothing during our 2 hours of walk. Just when we are about to leave, we find two beautiful
lion’s mane mushrooms. Lion’s manes are choice edible mushrooms.
They also have great medicinal properties and have been used in traditional Chinese
medicines. Recent studies also find these mushrooms are useful to treat dementia, so
they have the nickname “smart mushrooms” It has almost been two weeks since last rain. This
means the mushrooms contain just about the most desirable amount of moisture, not too
dry nor too watery, very fresh and ready for harvesting. these mushrooms usually grow on fallen or
dead hardwood trees in gullies or hill slopes near lake or river, like these two we stumbled
on. Lion’s manes do not have many poisonous look
alikes. They can be very easily identified because of its unique feature. It’s a relatively
large-size mushroom. The mature fruit body can grow as large as a monkey’s head. perhaps
that’s why Chinese people call it monkey’s head mushroom. Of course, the most important
identifying feature of the mushroom is its white hair or spine on its surface. To prepare the mushroom, I first use a small
brush to remove the dirt from the surface. Very gentally. Because this mushroom is in perfect condition,
I decide not to wet it in cleaning. If you find it just a couple of days after rain,
you probably will get a pretty wet mushroom and you will easily squeeze a lot of water
out. Then I cut off the root area. You can see
there are some dirts there that are not very easy removable. so we got to cut these parts
off. The last step is to use a dampened paper towel
to wipe the surface up. and remove with your fingers any dirts, or
whatever these black spots are. I am going to try two recipes with this single
mushroom. The first one is butter sherry lion’s maine, for this dish I use sliced mushroom. Add some olive oil to a pan, heat on medium-high. Add mushroom slices and sauté.
I prefer to use olive oil in this step because it won’t get easily burnt like butter. I will
add butter to flavor later on. Be patient. it will take 1 or 2 mins for one
side of the mushroom to go golden brown. I especially like the hairy part of the mushroom.
It will be heavenly crispy. When both sides are browned, add dry sherry.
Then some butter. Saute for another minute, and the butter sherry
mushroom is ready to serve. Don’t forget to add some salt and pepper to
taste. For this recipe, I use cubed lion’s mane.
As the name of the recipe suggests, you’ll need some chopped pineapple and green pepper.
I use Korean green pepper for this dish because it’s mildly spicy. You can use green or red
bell peppers if you want more sweetness. I use fresh pineapple but I believe canned
pineapples will do as well. To prepare the mushroom for deep fry, I first
beat an egg in a bowl, and then mix some flour and corn starch in another. I didn’t add
salt in the flour mix, but if you prefer, you can add it to enhance the flavor. Bath mushrooms in egg beat, and then roll
them in flour mix. Repeat this step until you get all mushroom coated with flour mix. Heat some oil on high in a small sauce pan.
Add mushroom piece by piece. let them fry until the color turn golden yellow.
If you are using a small pan as I am, do not put all the mushroom in at once as you’ll
lower the temperature of the oil. Just fry them in two groups. Now we have beautifully fried lions mane.
Set them aside, and now it’s time to cook the pineapple and green pepper. Heat on high some olive oil in a pan.
Add pineapple and pepper. Stir fry until almost cooked.
Then it’s time to add fried lion’s maine bites. and a little bit of soy sauce.
If you prefer a sweeter taste, you can also add some sugar right now. but the pineapple
I use is pretty ripe and sweet and I think the sweetness will be just fine. So i only
add some salt to taste. My wife likes the first dish and I personally
prefer the second. but definitely both worth trying. The pineapple perfectly neutralizes
the sour taste of the lion’s mane. All you get is sweet, juicy, tender mushroom with
crispy crust, taste just like crab meat.