DD rambles far and wide in his search for edible wild mushrooms, but he takes every opportunity he can to find them close to home as well. This past Saturday, he spent 8 hours up north in a rather fruitless search save for half-a-dozen or so candy caps. On Sunday, a 90-minute ramble through the park with the puppy yielded some nice Agaricus Augustus and Agaricus Lilaceps, which he turned into some beautiful mushroom crostini.
Say what, you mumble… Agaricus what? You were expecting something with chanterelles perhaps?
The genus Agaricus includes a large set of mushrooms (around 300 species) that includes the cultivated common white button, the brown criminis and giant portabellos that are so prevalent in many Western groceries today. (You did know that Portabellos are just super-large brown crimini mushrooms, right? Or rather, large Agaricus Bisporus.) However, not every Agaric species is edible, and indeed, several are poisonous, including Agaricus Xanthodermus – a yellow-staining mushroom (that looks very much like your average button) and Agaricus Californicus, also yellow-staining and very abundant throughout the Bay Area. Both are the most common types of Agarics in the area and tend to cause gastrointestinal upsets. As with all wild fungi, unless you absolutely what the heck you’re doing, please refrain from attempting to put these into your mouth and bellies.
Agaricus Augustus is more commonly known as the Prince. Indeed – it’s a very pretty mushroom, with a delicate pattern of miniscule scales on its cap and a wonderful almond scent and taste.
Its brother, Agaricus Lilaceps is less famous with a not-as-elegant name but nonetheless tasty. It’s nice and firm and for a while, we had mistaken it for Agaricus Bitorquis — the pavement mushroom — because of its boulder-like firmness. The Lilaceps stains a beautiful lavender when bruised or cut.
DD used a teriyaki-like recipe for these – mixing up soy sauce, sugar and mirin, and adding some Korean gochujang paste and crushed garlic. He first sautéed the mushrooms in butter and some regular cooking oil, making sure to start with the Lilaceps mushrooms first until they were properly softened, then adding some chopped-up Princes. Add in the soy sauce mix and reduce until the sauce and ‘shrooms gleam (the mirin contributes to the shininess). Spoon some of the mushroom mixture over toasted garlic-rubbed crostini and top with extra-virgin olive oil. The mushrooms will tast salty-sweet with added almondy complexity from the Prince. It made for a nice starter for a Sunday afternoon visit with some dear friends.
And if you can’t get your hands on any Princes or Lilaceps, white buttons, Criminis or Portabellos will do just fine.