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Cook some Thai mushrooms!

May 15, 2010

A group of cultivated mushrooms are always available at any given food market in Thailand: Volvariella volvacea (Paddy straw mushroom), Pleurotus ostreatus (Oyster mushroom), P. pulmonarius (Pale oyster mushroom), P. eryngii (King oyster mushroom) and some other oyster mushrooms, Tremella fuciformis (Silver ear, dried), Auricularia polytricha (Wood ear, and other similar species), Lentinula edodes (Shii-take), Lentinus squarrosulus, Lentinus polychrous, and sometimes even Agaricus bisporus (Champignon de Paris).

In addition to these cultivated species, wild mushrooms are available when in season (May-September).

As to Lentinula squarrosulus (see yesterday’s blog for a picture), I have not found any English name. As this used to be a member of the Pleurotus genus, and since it has the cooking characteristics of an oyster mushroom, why not use the name “Jungle oyster” for this native jungle species? One Thai name is “hed kon kao”.

Its native cousin is Lentinula polychrous (see picture below). It does not have any English name either, as far as I know. How about “Buffalo skin”, alluding to its dark colours, its chewy texture, and to the fact the Thai rice field farmers appreciate this mushroom a lot. The swamp water buffalo used to be a characteristic of this culture.

This is Khun Densak Seehamongkol’s favourite recipe from Esan: (google the scientific names for pictures, and you can pick any vernacular name you want):

1. Boil the Buffalo skin mushrooms in water (no salt) until soft, or for about 30 minutes.

2. Boil Sesbania grandiflora flowers and long beans (Vigna sesquipedalis) together (separate from the mushrooms).

3. Boil 3-5 dl of water with fresh fish such as Snake head (Channa striata) or Walking cat-fish (Clarias batrachus). Add two tea spoons of Esan pickled anchovy (pla raa). Too much will make it too salty.

4. Use a mortar and a pestle to create a paste of mushrooms, long beans and Sesbania flowers.

5. Take away the bones of the fish, and add the fish to the mushroom paste, use the pestle again. 

6. Add half a tea-spoon of chili powder and a few drops of fish sauce.

7. Serve with sticky rice (or any other rice you like). Normally this would only be one of several dishes.

8. Thais usually drink water (room temperature, i.e. 20-35 degrees), or Singha or Leo beer if there is a party.

9. Thais would usually serve fruits of the season as a dessert to any meal.

Eric Danell, Densak Seehamongkol, Ketsanee Seehamongkol

Lentinus polychrous, “Buffalo skin”, is named “hed lom” (wind mushroom) in northern Thai language and “hed gadaang” (chewy mushroom) in Esan langauage. We grow it at Dokmai Garden.

One Comment leave one →
  1. EleloGriefe permalink
    May 16, 2010 3:02 PM

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!


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