Mushrooms occupy a strange place in our palates. Neither part of the plant or the animal kingdom, they are an oft-feared addition to any meal. Yet the little decomposers beneath our feet have tremendous health benefits for our bodies and for our planet. In the spirit of reviving the good name of mushrooms everywhere, Dear Food presents an in-depth look at the good, the bad, and the just plain weird of the mushroom world.
Latin name: Pleurotus eryngii
Other names: king trumpet, French horn, king brown, trumpet royale
I found some of these the other day whilst urban mushroom hunting in Portland (read: I bought them at an Asian market) and got really excited. Because mushrooms.
As one might guess, P. eryngii is very closely related to the other mushrooms in the Pleurotus genus, but since it’s so different looking and little-mentioned I thought it deserved a post of its own.
Basically, the king oyster looks like a deformed oyster mushroom–with a very long puffy stalk and a tiny toenail cap. They tastes very similar to other oyster mushrooms, but I like these ones because you can eat the stalk as well (though the end does require a bit more cooking).
Also, you can make king oyster dishes look classy as heck. Observe:
These mushrooms prefer apparently prefer warm climates, so they aren’t native to the United States. Although they are possible to cultivate, I haven’t seem much mention of them in American mushroom farms… yet. Part of the reason is because they grow on a different substrate than other oyster mushrooms, and partially because, well, people in America are scared of mushrooms.
However, they are grown in other parts of the world–most notably Japan, where we got shiitake mushrooms. So it’s only a matter of time before they get over here.
Until then, do some urban mushroom hunting of your own! They’re out there, waiting for you.