Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Dryad's Saddle Mushroom Teriyaki

I served roasted milkweed shoots as a side--instructions below
Dryad's saddle mushrooms (Polyporus squamosus, also called Pheasant's Back mushrooms) are generally not very highly thought of. They are often considered tough and lacking in flavor, especially when not very, very young (under 3-4 inches across). I have been struggling with this mushroom for some time, and I refuse to give up on it. I found a nice haul last year, and experimented with a recipe on Steve Brill's website, but I have to admit--I really didn't care for it.

Gorgeous fruiting from last year.
This is how they look when they haven't been rained on.
Then I found this website's recipe for a jambalaya, and I regained hope in the humble dryad's saddle. The jambalaya helped me figure out what dryad's saddle mushrooms are all about: though they are lacking in flavor, they have a nice, meaty richness to them--one of the meatiest mouth feels I have ever had from a mushroom. I wanted to play that up more, find away to enhance the meatiness and add flavor which the fungus lacked. This teriyaki was my first successful attempt!

The real struggle with this dish is the cutting. You want everything to be more or less even in thickness, otherwise some will burn when you roast them, while others will be undone. The ideal pieces are just this side of too tough--they have that nice meatiness, but will also be toothsome, even chewy. If you don't like that texture, you probably won't enjoy these mushrooms prepared this way.

This year's dryad saddles,
a bit faded from the rain, and older

Dryad's Saddle Mushroom Teriyaki

Serves 2. Can be doubled or tripled. 

4 cups thinly sliced dryad's saddle mushroom, sliced as evenly as possible. * 
1/2 cup soy sauce, use gluten free for gluten free
1 tbs chili garlic sauce
3 tbs honey, or 2 tbs agave for vegan
1 tbs of freshly grated ginger
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp cornstarch
2 ramp leaves or 1 scallion, to garnish
Cooked rice, for serving
olive oil

  1. Mix all ingredients, except mushrooms in a large bowl. Once combined, add mushrooms and stir or toss to coat. Allow to marinate for 10-20 minutes. Dryad's saddle is very absorptive, and doesn't need long to get a lot of flavor.
  2. Strain your mushrooms very thoroughly--and reserve the marinade. I allowed them to sit in a colander for 30 minutes then pressed them with paper towels till no more liquid came out. They are very absorptive, so it may take several passes with the towels.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350. Line a flat baking sheet with foil, and coat with olive oil. 
  4. Spread your mushrooms out on the oil-coated sheet, making sure they don't touch. 
  5. Roast for about 10 minutes, then remove and flip the mushrooms. Add more oil if necessary, you kind of want to oven fry them. 
  6. While the mushrooms are roasting, reduce the marinade in a stock pan with 1tsp cornstarch, mixed into 2 tbs of soy. 
  7. After about 8 minutes on the second side, keep checking your mushrooms. They will need to be removed anywhere from 8-12 minutes, depending on thickness. You want them very well done, but not burnt--just starting to get richly brown and caramelized on the edges.
  8. Thinly slice your ramp leaves or scallions. Toss through with the mushrooms until wilted. Drizzle the thickened marinade over the rice, top with mushrooms and serve immediately.
* Cut away the stem. Don't use any shelf or portion of a shelf that is too tough to cut easily with a sharp knife. This generally means young mushrooms, but also medium sized ones, with shelves up to 8-10 inches across.  

Roasted Milkweed Shoot Side Dish

Simply blanch your milkweed shoots in boiling water, to remove the chalky taste of the sap. Then toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in the oven along with the mushrooms. I find that while I usually think milkweed resembles green beans in taste, roasting them really brings out some asparagus flavor.

Remember to always harvest milkweed in a sustainable manner, as it is a key food source for monarch and other butterflies, as well as native honey and bumblebees. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this great recipe!! I am a huge fan of the pheasantback and love finding new ways to cook it.