So we got a couple of bags of the ugly suckers in today. Never heard of them before and I have no idea how they are traditionally prepared. I will be using them professionally, but I am leaving this in the general forum because I know that plenty of you home cooks know stuff too! I also would just like to know something more than the wiki entry for this stuff, anything you got is welcome here.
I guess the right place to start is how to clean them. These are some dirty buggers with lots of cracks and pits, my pastry brush just couldn't get down into them and remove all of the dirt. I ended up using the tip of my knife and fingers to scrape out what I could. There has to be a more efficient way to get through these. The red coating looks like it is possible to rinse off, so I don't think I want to go there. This may be confirmed by the fact that the color did leach out into the butter I used to sautee the one I tried today. Thoughts?
To get a feel for the flavor of the mushroom I did slice one and sautee it in some butter. The texture was unlike any other that I've had. They were very firm, I suppose I could have cooked it a little more, perhaps added some liquid to soften them more, but this is a very firm mushroom. The flavor... I don't know, its too complicated and changes a lot while you are chewing. I would say that they are slightly bitter, and there's something funky that I just can't place, wood? The point of this? I also don't know, hopefully you are familiar with this stuff if you are planing to add some advise here.
My first instinct is to match these with something on the sweeter side, to balance the bitter, and nothing too strong so as to not overpower the complexity of the flavor. The obvious place to start would be pasta with cream sauce, maybe actual lobster with lobster mushroom? Might be a mouthful for the server when presenting the daily features;) Seafood risotto is probably where I'm leaning to most. Do you think it may be wise to stay away from steaks, red wine, or marsala? How about something in an appetizer that allows the mushroom to shine on its own? Maybe some other ingredients that complement these guys or bring out hidden flavors?
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days. - Ben Franklin