“Oh…you found someone’s brain!” came the reply when I proudly sent this to a friend! 😂
It certainly elicited more enthusiasm (and a little envy) when I shared it to my foraging groups.
After all, in the world of mushroom foraging, this is a fungi of legendary status!
(I had heard about it from my mother, long before I took a real interest in mushrooms.)
Not only is it a delectable edible but also very easy to identify.
Sparassis spathulata, which goes by the same common name, is very similar in both appearance and edibility.
The Small Print...
A delicious, easily identified wild mushroom, what’s not to like?
Well, I hadn’t fully considered the rather obvious fact that a mushroom so full of crevices is likely to be inhabited… This one was populated by so many leggy critters, I was a grasshopper short of calling it James and the Giant Sparassis!
Don’t underestimate the hiding abilities of a millipede, and woodlice are much sneakier than they look!
For optimum flavour and texture, it’s best to avoid washing mushrooms usually, but a quick wash is definitely recommended for this particular mushroom (thankfully it’s not as absorbent as other types).
I spent quite a lot of time carefully separating it into smaller pieces, brushing out loose dirt and insects.
But even after a blast under the tap and a good shake, one stubborn millipede waited until his morsel was sizzling in the pan to make a hasty delayed exit! (don’t worry, I made a swift rescue)
At some point, during the process, I resigned myself to eating ample amounts of bug poo with my lovely mushroom. I suppose it’s only pre-consumed mushroom anyway…
Taste and Smell
The smell became quite familiar during the time it took to prepare it all. Not an unpleasant scent, bittersweet, almost a hint of woody orange, to me.
I simply fried in olive oil for my first taste.
I really don’t want to say this but…
It tasted like chicken!
It’s such a cliche, and since I haven’t eaten chicken in about seven years, perhaps I’m not even qualified to say it…
I needed a second opinion, so I called my (non-vegetarian) neighbour round for a taste; After chewing thoughtfully for a while he declared, “It tastes like bacon.” [facepalm]
What I did with it
I added some to a rich Miso soup.
And, of course, my favourite, Spaghetti!
Have you tried the Cauliflower fungus? What did you think? Tell me your favourite recipes, please! Comment below.