These are some funky little guys and I paid a steep $10 for a small bag of them. I can’t say it was the smartest economic decision, considering you can’t make any sort of meal out of mushrooms alone. But then again, I’m staying at my parents’ house again, and one can’t have everything under control all the time, right? I’ve got to spice up this suburban life somehow. (Yes, I realize how how this might sound.)
Before I came across these little mush friends at the Baltimore farmers market one Sunday, I can’t say that I’d seen them before in my life. But they sure looked like a fun time. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it, they say.
Turns out, these soft golden-brown mushrooms are called honey mushrooms. And they’re neither poisonous (when prepared right) nor hallucinogenic (sorry). From one taste test, it becomes apparent that honey mushrooms were named for their color rather than their flavor. (There’s nothing sweet about them.) And many people may get sick from them, regardless of prep techniques. Well, there’s only one way to find out!
The good thing is, the Internet told me everything I needed to know about cooking with honey mushrooms. Let me tell you: there are some seriously obsessed mushroom foragers out there, and they love videotaping themselves sans face, with closeups of their hands as they talk on and on and on and on about so many types of mushrooms that are totally foreign to me. Can’t say this side of YouTube is all that engaging. But. Oh. Did I mention how cute these are?
I mean really, look:
Ok. It’s time to say goodbye to the cutest honey mushrooms ever and make lunch. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
Like the more common grocery store mushroom varieties (ahem, button or cremini, basically), these earthy creatures are pretty versatile and will take on the flavors of the seasonings you pair with them. (Just please don’t eat them raw because you could die, maybe, I don’t know?.) I tossed my sautéd honey mushrooms in a cold oil-based pasta salad, with cherry tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, kale, and cooled penne noodles. And the texture totally worked! But you can also pickle them, or add them to soups, or be super boring and just roll them into a veggie wrap. You do you. Everyone’s got to eat.
How To Prep Honey Mushrooms
What you need:
- Paper towel or clean kitchen cloth
- Small saucepan or pot
- Frying pan
- Neutral oil (I use sesame, but grapeseed also works)
- Seasonings and/or sauces
- Clean and cut the mushrooms. Wet a cloth and wipe the mushrooms clean. Remove the most minimal part of the end, so that the mushrooms separate from their base. Discard any whose ends are dark, soft, and smell rotten.
- Boil the mushrooms. The technical culinary term is “blanch.” But what we’re doing here is bringing small pot of water to boil, adding the mushrooms for about 3 minutes, and then straining them and running them under cold water. Why? We’re killing germs and the such. And this softens the shrooms just enough without getting them soggy. Note: The discarded water will have a golden tint to it.
- Sauté the mushrooms. Heat the tiniest drop of sesame oil (or other neutral oil) in a pan over medium heat. (We don’t want to grease these babies up too much.) Add the honey mushrooms, and sauté them for about 4 minutes. Then add any seasonings or sauces that you want to experiment with. I kept things simple with freshly ground pepper and a 1/4-teaspoon soy sauce. Continue cooking for about 2 more minutes.
Note: Honey mushrooms get pretty slimy and slippery as soon as they’re cooked in any kind of liquid. It’s because they literally secrete slime. That’s the scientific term, probably. Let’s not think about it. Just let them sit over medium heat until they brown a little.