Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Hedgehog mushroom saute with brown rice-chickpea

Today I found a mushroom that I wasn't previously familiar with, the hedgehog mushroom. It cost $19.99/pound, but I bought just enough for two small side dishes and spent under $3. I sauted them with onion in Earth Balance, a vegan buttery spread that is one of my kitchen's staples. The hedgehog mushrooms were interesting and reasonably good, though nothing like the fabulous flavor of morel mushrooms. I also served a spiced short-grained brown rice with chickpeas and sundried tomatoes. Fresh vegetables like carrots and English peas accompanied the meal.

I found a good description of the mushroom at

The hedgehog mushroom looks like a large chanterelle. The underside of the cap has a shredded appearance, like a tiny shag carpet. The flesh is firm and dense, and is quite delicious in soups or stews. Other members of the tooth fungus family (Hydnaceae) may have spines, soft and long enough to be called beards, waterfalls, or fur. The tiny stalactites of the hedgehog mushroom are barely visible, but enough to elicit the name of hedgehog. The colour is buff to tawny, with paler stems. It is collected in the wild in North America, Europe, and China, but not cultivated. When cooked, it tastes like a chanterelle blended with cultivated button and oyster mushrooms, but having none of the sweetness, dispelling the inviting name of "sweet tooth". In fact, the mushroom's tendency towards bitterness usually dissipates with simmering and a touch of sugar.


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