Cauliflower mushrooms or Sparassis crispa which is its latin name. Is a mushroom that is new to me in my culinary skills and kitchen. Its flavor is very much of that of an egg noodle and texture is a close match as well.
This mushroom is the star of my new mushroom pickle. This pickle is an indian fusion pickle. It is a spicy dill pickle with the amazing texture of the Cauliflower mushroom. This pickle makes an amazing cheese board friend or sandwich accomplis.
Some fun facts
This massive fungus, sometimes several attaining a weight of several kg, grows at the bases of pine trees and occasionally other softwoods in summer and autumn. Commonly referred to as the Wood Cauliflower, this really is an impressive fungus.
Although in the wild these fungi are parasitic on the roots of coniferous trees, where squirrels often nibble them before anyone gets a chance to make them into a tasty mushroom soup, Wood Cauliflowers can be grown in cultivation. (There are reports of its culture on softwood sawdust heaps.)
Sparassis crispa is only a weak parasite and not a deadly killer. Trees can live for many years supporting new Wood Cauliflower fruitbodies annually. (First Nature website)
The generic name Sparassis is derived from a Greek verb meaning to tear - the fronds of the fruitbody are divided irregularly as though they have been torn; and the specific epithet crispa translates to finely waved or curled, and is not a reference to brittleness (crispness) - in fact the lobes are quite pliable (they have been described as cartilaginous in texture rather than brittle (First Nature)
I thought it would be fun to add a recipe for you to try with these mushrooms. I do have then available in my online store for $6 Dollars each.
Hot and Sour Cauliflower Mushroom Soup
I have only been lucky enough to make this a few times in my life, mostly due to the rarity of Sparassis crispa, aka the Cauliflower mushroom. This mushroom has a unique firmness reminiscent of noodles and can be soaked and rinsed to clean. I like to then cut into Cauliflower like chunks. This recipe is a fairly simple one and for best results should be slow cooked overnight.
2-4 lbs fresh Cauliflower mushrooms
16 oz kimchi
½ cup peas
20 oz can crushed pineapple
32 oz chicken or vegetable broth
1 egg, well beaten
Chili paste, black pepper, garlic powder, ginger and soy sauce to taste
Combine ingredients (except egg) in a pot and bring to a boil. Add beaten egg to the boiling soup while gently stirring. Reduce heat to low, cover and allow to simmer overnight. Serves 8.