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Now that the first season of a certain hit HBO show has concluded, I think this is, finally, a safe space for the return of a beloved topic: the mushroom!
Driven by little other than impulse, I recently splurged on some nice mushrooms without a plan in mind. I finally decided to riff on this vegan taco recipe from Jocelyn Ramirez, in which bits of oyster mushrooms are crisped like chicharrónes and paired with a piquant pico de gallo.
Since I had delicate maitake mushrooms, I chose to leave the clusters largely intact, taking care to shake smoky pimentón — in addition to the cumin Jocelyn calls for — into the nooks and crannies. This ensured that the interior of the bunch was well seasoned, and that the spices wouldn’t burn.
After arranging the mushrooms in an oiled cast-iron skillet, I placed my small Dutch oven on top of them so there was ample contact with the hot surface, rendering the feathery tendrils crunchy while the thicker ends got nicely seared, but stayed plenty juicy. (Shout out to the squished mushroom evangelist Bettina Makalintal.)
Again acting on impulse, I also sprinkled a bit of shredded Oaxaca cheese over some mini flour tortillas as they toasted in the skillet. Once it had melted into soft white puddles, I flipped the tortillas over to create a lightly crisped cheese cradle for my filling. I topped everything with sliced avocado, chopped white onion and cilantro, and cut lime wedges for squeezing. I could have eaten a dozen of these.
For a decidedly different textural experience, stew your ’shrooms! A beautifully browned mushroom is a treat, but so, too, is a saucy one. Using mostly cultivated mushrooms in this deeply savory stew, David Tanis keeps things economical, but adding a few wild chanterelles or oyster mushrooms makes the meal fitting for a cozy, late-winter dinner party.
Or supplement easy-to-find baby bellas, or button mushrooms, with cubes of eggplant for Yewande Komolafe’s vegan spin on sauce yassa, the Senegalese stew. Spiced with chile, garlic and ginger and showered with lime juice, the vegetables take on complex layers of flavor in only 45 minutes’ time.
These are the kind of recipes that, if you’re still rattled by the cordyceps in “The Last of Us,” are sure to shake you out of any fungal fears.
One More Thing!
Here’s a snapshot of the tacos I made, for posterity! And while I have you, a reminder that the first-ever New York Times All Access sale ends soon. Get a single subscription to Cooking, Wirecutter, The Athletic, Games and, of course, news, at a special rate! Because there are plenty more mushroom recipes where this one came from.