Cep aka porcini is such a prized mushroom that it is often showcased as the key ingredient in very simple dishes like the tagliatelle ai porcini I enjoyed in Parma a couple of years ago. It’s fêted in porcini festivals; there are recipe books dedicated to it; even children’s stories! But fresh porcini is expensive, and the main season (in Europe) runs only from late August to November. It hasn’t yet been successfully farmed so supply comes from the wild, hence the cost and the lack of availability.
But don’t despair! There are other mushrooms which are less expensive and more readily available and can be just as delicious when used well.
The King Oyster (Pleurotus eryngii) – also known as the King Trumpet and the French Horn – is one such mushroom. In the wild, it can be found year round, though the high season is August to February. It’s also a variety that is successfully farmed, and hence it’s available a little more widely in supermarkets and markets, though still not as common as Chestnut, Button and Portobello mushrooms.
(Incidentally, did you realise that Portobello mushrooms are actually just large, mature Button mushrooms? No, me neither until I was looking up aliases for the King Oyster!)
As it’s name suggests, the King Oyster is the grandest member of the Pleurotus genus, which also contains the regular oyster mushroom and the bright yellow golden oyster mushroom. Unlike many in the genus, which have minimal stems and wide, frilly caps the King Oyster has a thick white stem and a small pale brown cap. The texture is dense and meaty.
Although the King Oyster doesn’t taste of much (or smell, for that matter) when raw, once cooked it’s delicious – it has a deep mushroom earthiness, a slightly sweet nuttiness and a silky firm texture. In fact, although “meaty” is a common description, I’d say its texture is perhaps more reminiscent of shellfish though don’t let that put you off trying it, if you’re not a fan. (Certainly, the shape of the cooked slices reminded Pete and I of little fishes!)
We bought these mushrooms from the Turnips mushroom stall at Borough Market one Saturday in January. Four fat specimens cost under £6 and we picked up a tub of Hurdlebrook extra thick, natural and untreated cream to pair with them. (Hurdlebrook are based in Somerset, and produce beautiful dairy from their Guernsey cows).
I’m keeping the recipe very loose, as it’s very simple and the amounts can be adjusted easily to serve more or less people.
King Oyster Mushroom & Cream Pasta
- 2 King Oyster mushrooms per person
- 1 tbsp extra thick double cream per person
- vegetable oil and butter , to cook
- pasta of your choice , amounts as per your usual portions
Slice the mushrooms into four along their length. My slices were about a quarter of an inch thick.
Retain the two central slices from each mushroom and set aside.
Finely chop the outer two slices from the mushrooms. I used a food processor.
If using dried pasta, put your pasta on to boil.
In one frying pan, heat a little oil and gently fry the finely chopped mushrooms over a low to medium heat.
In a second pan, heat a little vegetable oil and butter and gently fry the sliced mushrooms over a low to medium heat.
When the pasta is nearly cooked, and the mushrooms have taken on a nice golden colour, stir the cream into the chopped mushrooms until it’s heated through. Season to taste.
Drain the pasta thoroughly, and then mix into the chopped mushroom and cream sauce.
Serve with the fried mushroom slices.
This was a super meal; we both commented repeatedly on just how enjoyable it was and so simple to make too.
Have you tried King Oyster mushrooms? What’s your favourite way to cook them? What mushrooms do you suggest I look out for next?
With thanks to Mark from Galloway Wild Foods for helping me clarify some mushroom facts via twitter. You may also enjoy this great post about mushrooms from my friend Urvashi.
Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!12 Comments to "King Oyster Mushroom & Cream Pasta"
It’s funny how often something really simple just hits the spot?!
This looks lovely. I’ve seen those mushrooms at Borough, and other than mushroom risotto, would not have known what to do with them.
Wish I could go this morning and pick some up!
We made it up, but based on things we’d cooked / eaten previously. 🙂
this is absolutely The Viking’s favourite pasta dish… cream and mushrooms… although I fear those fancy shrooms would be waisted on him… gorgeous stuff!
They’re not expensive – if he likes mushrooms, am sure he’d appreciate them and they wouldn’t be wasted! x
Love that for quantity of pasta in your recipe you say “amounts as per your usual portions”, Kavey. That way we don’t feel guilty if we choose to use more than the recommended amount.
Heheh, I know sometimes when we make recipes for pasta, we are surprised by paucity or enormity of portion size compared to how much we normally have. So I figured people could measure out, by weight or sight, however much pasta they feel a portion is for them! 🙂
When I saw the picture I thought “Oh, you cut out little goldfish shapes”! I do love a mushroom cream sauce.
Glad we weren’t alone in seeing fishes!
Just gorgeous. Gosh, that mushroom stall is dangerous. I remember the first year we were here I elected not to go out for dinner for my birthday, but just to go and blow a heck of a lot of cash on wild mushrooms instead for risotto at home. It was pretty darn good.
I love your style, Mrs!
We get these at our local chinese supermarket in DC. Had some tonight in fact and here’s how.
Cooked a couple of duck breasts in a skillet pan until medium-rare.
In a separate pan, cooked some of these mushrooms (sliced) in a little olive oil, adding some of the fat that came off the duck breasts. before they were fully cooked added a good portion of cherry tomatoes, then a little later some chopped garlic.
Cooked some penne pasta in salted water in a third pan. When all was done, thinly sliced the duck breasts, added the drained pasta to the mushrooms and tomatoes and deglazed the duck skillet with balsamic vinegar. Pasta plus duck plus balsamic deglaze, a good squeeze of black pepper and a spot of freshly grated parmesan = absolute heaven.
That does sound tasty, Rob, thanks for sharing! 🙂