Mushrooms are the ‘Dumpster Divers’ of nature. They live in dark and damp places, and magically convert plant remains, composts or even manure to tasty umami bombs. Umami is an often missed taste in home-cooking. It adds depth and fullness to a dish.
The best way to cook mushrooms applies 2 culinary rules: 1) Concentrate the umami by cooking out the abundant water, and 2) Don’t overheat – allow their own enzymes some time to break down the stalk-proteins into smaller amino acids that increase umami. Hence, the secret is to apply heat without water.
There are 3 types of ‘dry heat’: Roasting, Frying, and oil poaching. But which is best? The Plant Jammers asked Reddit and got a plethora of clever answers: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskCulinary/comments/5vawfc/best_way_to_cook_mushrooms_i_want_umami/. I really recommend reading the Reddit answers – people are smart in there! The consensus on Reddit was to fry with a little bit of oil. However, we at Plant Jammer are not convinced. When you fry mushrooms you have to avoid overcrowding on the pan or you will actually be steaming the mushrooms in their own water, leading to overheating. Submerging the mushrooms in oil instead, and you’re safe: Oil at a given temperature is 3 times less energy dense than water, so it is easier to overcrowd without overheating – allowing #rule 2 above. So, we prefer oil poaching! But how does one ‘oil poach’?
How to ‘Oil poach’ mushrooms:
A. Add so much oil to a pan that it could almost cover the mushrooms
B. Heat the oil up to modest heat (some would call it luke warm – only about 50-80 Degrees Celsius)
C. Add the mushrooms, turn the heat way down low and let them cook for about 20 minutes, still keep it only ‘luke warm’.
D. Sieve off the oil, and save it for dressings or other poaching sessions on another day.
Myth-busting: Contrary to much online advice, you should still wash your mushrooms. Washing the mushrooms will not significantly increase water content – mushrooms already are 90% water so a bit of surface water won’t make a difference.
Now it’s time to build a dish. I used Plant Jammer to pair the mushrooms with other ingredients:
Example – Mushroom Spinach dish:https://www.app.plantjammer.com/cooking/8UUDrkO
However, you need more umami to make a dish. A delicious dish requires sour, crunch, aromas, freshness, bitterness, and spicyness:
Play with this ‘Gastrowheel’ and build your own delicious dishes with the Plant Jammer app: