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Edible mushrooms and other fungi
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Maitake (Hen of the Woods) Grifola frondosa
Southern Europe, Australia, North America. Can be cultivated.
Late summer through fall
Aromatic
Oblong, tufted body; some say it bears a resemblance to a squatting hen with feathers spread out
Grayish- to reddish-brown
For sauces, as flavoring in dishes that require long, slow cooking
Matsutake Armillaria ponderosa
Japan, Korea and the Pacific Northwest of the United States
Late fall
Robust, somewhat pine-flavored
Fleshy, with rounded cap and central stem
White cap with cinnamon-brown scales or stains
Grilled; also widely used in Asian cuisine
Morels Morchella spp.
In northern Europe and many parts of North America
Early to late spring; dried excellent substitute for fresh
Earthy, rich, slightly nutty
Hollow body and hollow, honeycombed head
Black, golden-yellow or white
Do not eat raw. Good grilled, sauteed or in sauces, or with grilled or roasted food
Nameko Pholiota nameko
Japan
This cultivated mushroom is available fresh year-round, but its canned form is more often used.
Rich, earthy
Small, with a fleshy cap and central stem
Range, from orange to amber to gold
Standard ingredient in miso soup
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Oyster Pleurotus ostreatus
Temperate regions worldwide
Year-round; only cultivated available at height of summer
Mild
Small, similar to an oyster shell
Blue, black, golden, white
Stir-fried, in salads, sauteed
Porcini (Cepe, Bolete) Boletus edulis
Throughout North America and Europe, in South Africa and Australia
Late spring through early summer, then again in early fall. Dried acceptable substitute for fresh.
Sweet and nutty
Fleshy, with a central stalk and a pored surface (instead of gills) on the underside of the cap
Light to dark brown, pale violet, red
Grilled; good with pork or chicken; star ingredient in risotto
Porta Bella Agaricus bisporus
Throughout Northern America
Year-round; widely cultivated
More woodsy than white button mushrooms, but still mild
Similar to white button mushrooms
Tan to brown
Grilled, stuffed, as a meat substitute in hot sandwiches
Shiitake (Oak mushroom) Lentinus edodes
Japan, China, the United States
All year round, widely cultivated; dried sometimes preferred over fresh, especially in Chinese and Japanese cuisine.
Rich, woodsy flavor; dried shiitake have even stronger flavor
Umbrella shaped cap with central stalk
Tan to dark brown
In stir-fries and Asian dishes
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Straw (Paddy straw, Grass) Volvaria esculenta
South Asia, including southern China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia
Year-round (widely cultivated)
Musty, earthy
Small, with caps shaped like coolies' hats
As it matures, changes from pale tan to charcoal gray
In Asian cuisine
Truffle Tuber melanosporum or magnatum
Mid- to Southern Europe, especially France
Fall and winter
Rich, nutty
Roundish, lumpy, with marbled flesh
Black, white
May be boiled, roasted, cooked in oil or wine; extremely expensive, so most recipes call for very small amounts (one mushroom or less)
White (Button, Cultivated White) Agaricus bisporus
Cultivation only; believed to be a sport of the brown Agaricus
Year-round (look for mushrooms whose caps have not yet opened)
Mild, woodsy
Fleshy cap with sturdy stem
Ranges from beige to white
Raw in salads, sauteed, in sauces, or marinated
Woodear Auricularia polytricha
Asia
dried often preferred in Chinese cuisine
Mild
Fungus shaped like a small, slightly concave "ear" growing off tree branches and trunks
Brown
Extensively used in Chinese cuisine; good in soups, vegetable dishes
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