Morel mushrooms are a wonderful ingredient to add oomph to your meals with their unique cone-like shape and nutty flavour. This wild mushroom is a delicacy only available in the spring but you can find dried morels all year long. They are delicious and can be prepared in a variety of ways.
Morel mushrooms have a distinctive shape with a hollow interior, which is important as this marks them out from the poisonous false morels, which have a fibrous interior. Never eat any mushrooms unless you are 100% sure they are safe for consumption.
Not overly mushroomy in taste, morels have an almost chicken-like flavour, particularly when pan fried until crispy. Low in fat, morels contain high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, boasting the highest vitamin D content of edible mushrooms.
So how do you cook morel mushrooms? Below you'll find some tips and tricks to help you with that endeavour. But first, a few tips on how to clean and prepare morel mushrooms for cooking.
Morel Mushrooms: how to clean and prepare them
When you bring them home you’ll want to inspect the morel mushrooms for worms and bugs. Use a vegetable brush to clean off any dirt and grime. Slicing the morel mushrooms in half will help you inspect them for bugs. Fresh morel mushrooms may be soaked in salt water for an hour to help get rid of bugs. They should then be patted dry.
To reconstitute dried morel mushrooms:
- Place mushrooms in a bowl and cover with warm water. You don't want to drown them in water, simply add enough water to cover the mushrooms.
- This will help them hydrate easily. The time it takes the mushrooms to soften will depend on their size and age.
How To Cook Morel Mushrooms: Tips for a good sauté
Before sautéing morel mushrooms, it’s a nice idea to slice them in half so diners can appreciate their hollow interior. Here’s are the steps to follow:
Dry off the mushrooms and coat the bottom of a pan with the oil of your choice (coconut oil is a good option). When the oil is hot, drop in the mushrooms in batches. It’s important not to overcrowd the pan so you don't end up with watery mushrooms.
Once the morel mushrooms are perfectly seared add a pat of butter to the pan and mix well. You could finish them off with chopped fresh herbs or a splash of lemon, apple cider vinegar or wine.
Image via Black Girl Chef Whites
Here is a great recipe for ribeye steak and morel mushrooms in red wine sauce.
How To Cook Morel Mushrooms: A Tasty Stuffing
Just like button mushrooms or porcinis, morel mushrooms can be diced and added to just about any filling or stuffing.
In this wonderful Vietnamese recipe morel mushrooms are mixed with carrots, bean sprouts, chicken, pork and rice noodles to make a savoury stuffing for pan-fried squid.
How To Cook Morel Mushrooms: Tips for Frying
Morel mushrooms may be left whole when frying. This helps the breadcrumbs stick to them and results in gorgeous golden cones of flavour.
To fry morel mushrooms:
- Wash the mushrooms and pat them dry
- Add them to a bowl of beaten eggs
- Allow excess egg to drip off and drop into a bowl of seasoned breadcrumbs (ground nuts would also be a nice substitute)
- Tap to remove excess breadcrumbs
- Fry until golden
- Set on paper towels and sprinkle with a touch of salt
With thousands of different types of edible mushrooms out there, creativity is in ample supply when it comes to recipe ingredients. Large Portobello mushrooms are the perfect shape to hold stuffing for all kinds of vegetarian recipes such as this one. Forest mushrooms make the ideal backdrop to a classic Italian risotto. This recipe contains a mix of chanterelles, ceps, bay and boletes. Finally, mushrooms pair well with eggs for brunch or snacks at any time of day, such as these mini quiches with mushrooms, mozzarella and pine nuts.
Another great read: The Zen Art of Going Mushrooming