September always feels like the beginning of a new year, and after having a very intense, very busy summer, I am looking forward to this one. I just got back from Burning Man and I am excited to start anew. In a few days, I am leaving for Japan, and before that happens I want to gift you a recipe I cannot get enough of. I am eating this at least every other day and hope you love it as much as I do. For the ones that know me, this will come as a surprise as I might have never eaten mushrooms in front of you. But hey, new year, new me.
It is impossible for me to write about mushrooms without first telling you about my complicated relationship with them. This classic tale goes something like this: I was young, full-heartedly devouring a pizza covered in mushrooms. At age five, or six, or seven- who knows- I was giving in to this new found food for the very first time. With a full belly and a joyous heart, I went home satisfied. Within a few hours, my whole body burst into hives. I carried them for a week, and shunned mushrooms from my diet for a very, very long time.
That was until I had mushroom coffee for the first time a few years ago. I took a sip, then two. Nothing happened. My curiosity grew, and I ventured into mushroom broth the following year. This led to the day I jumped in and took a bite off an actual, meaty mushroom- crispy and forest-like. It felt like jumping into water from a high rock - your heart in your throat, your stomach sunk into the depths of your body, yet euphoric and excited. I could die from this?
Obviously I didn't and I am here to tell the tale of how I rekindled my love affair with mushrooms. Within the past several months I have tried them all, enoki (tender and sweet), portobellos (earthy), king oyster (yummm!), lion's mane (tastes like scallops).
Diving into the world of mushrooms feels like finding a new pair of favorite jeans, sad that you have wasted all that time on ones that weren't as good as these, yet excited to experience the world differently. With some many dietary restrictions and annoying food allergies, it is beyond rewarding to find something that is this delicious and this good.
This recipe couldn't be simpler - a hot cast iron skillet, olive oil, and hen of the woods mushrooms. When all the intricate nooks and crannies hit the skillet, they become golden, crispy, and delicious. Hen of the woods is meaty and earthy, full of umami and forest. I like to sometimes drizzle tahini for good measure and serve with a hearty green salad.
Pan Roasted Hen of the Woods
1 cast iron skillet
- 1 big handful of hen of the woods mushrooms, about 1/4 lb per person
- 1 heavy drizzle of olive oil
- Pinch of sea salt
- Tahini, optional
- Cut your mushroom into big florets. I like to think of cutting these as you would cauliflower, keep some of the stem with each floret to ensure they stay one piece as you cook them.
- Place your cast iron skillet over high heat. Heat through for five or seven minutes. To test whether your skillet is hot enough for the mushrooms, add a drop of water, if it sizzles and evaporated, you are good to go.
- Add olive oil, then mushroom florets. Cook until for five minutes or until golden brown on the edges. Flip and repeat on other side.
- Remove from the skillet and place on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Immediately add a pinch of salt. Place on serving plate and add a drizzle of tahini.
- Eat immediately!
Cook Time: 15 minutes