Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Butter Poached Lions Mane Mushrooms

"It tastes just like chicken."

You hear that a lot when someone is trying to describe something to someone who has never tried it.  It is such a worn out phrase that people make jokes about it.

But when Hugh Brewer of  Brewers Mushrooms dropped off the Lions Mane kit and told Alexis that these mushrooms taste like LOBSTER, I was intrigued.  A mushroom that tastes like lobster?  Now I just needed some ideas for what to make.

Mushroom Flavor Pairings
I've heard people say that mushrooms go with anything because they have a tendency to take on the flavors of what they are cooked with.  But mushrooms actually are a natural flavor enhancer.  According to Harold McGee, mushrooms contain many free amino acids including glutamic acid, making them a organic source of monosodium glutamate (McGee 9473).   The flavor enhancer Guanosine monophosphate was first discovered in shiitake mushrooms (McGee 9473).  So they don't just "take on" flavor, mushrooms amplify flavor.

Gourmet exotic mushrooms offer a world of flavor possibilities with hints of things like cinnamon, pepper, garlic, pine needles, butterscotch and in the case of Lions Mane, shellfish (McGee 9481). 

Here are some common flavor pairings for mushrooms as listed in The Flavor Bible.  John "Patio Daddio" Dawson recommended The Flavor Bible to me and it quickly became one of my most frequently used kitchen tools.  If you develop your own recipes, you want this book.  It was money well spent for me ($17 Kindle edition).   These are only partial listings from the book but give some good general ideas.

Mushrooms in general 
asparagus, bacon, beef, butter, carrots, cayenne, chicken, chives, cognac, chives, cream, garlic, ham, leeks, lemon, oil, onions, oregano, parsley, peas, pepper (black, white), pine nuts, pork, potatoes, radicchio, rice/risotto, rosemary, sage, salt, seafood, sesame oil, shallots, sherry (dry), sour cream, soy sauce, spinach, stocks, tarragon, thyme, vinegar (esp balsamic, red wine, sherry), wine

Chantrelle - same with emphasis on beef and chicken stocks
Cremini - same and goat and parmesan cheese, truffle oil,
Matsutake - savoy cabbage, black cod, custard, sashi, fish, chervil, Japanese cuisine, mirin, other wild mushrooms, sake, shrimp, tempura, tofu, rice wine vinegar
Morels - asparagus, caraway seeds, cheese (fontina, goat, parmesan), chicken mousse, heavy cream, eggs, faro, fava beans, fiddlehead ferns, Serrano ham, lamb, Madeira, thyme, sherry vinegar, ramps, sweetbreads
Porcini/Cepes/King Bolete - almonds, arugula, brandy, cheese (fontina, garrotxa, parmesan), chervil, roasted chicken, cream, eggs, hazelnuts, Italian cuisine in general, mint, button or cremini mushrooms, pasta, arborio ric, sake, tamari, white truffles, balsamic vinegar
Portobello - cheese (manchego, parmesan, ricotta), mint, pasta, polenta, spinach, thyme, sun dried tomatoes (I personally like with fire roasted chiles, cilantro)
Shiitake - bacon, basil, brandy, clarified butter, chile peppers, coriander, Japanese cuisine in general, oyster mushrooms, onions (esp red and white), polenta, pork, spinach, chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, dry white wine. (I like fresh ginger too, they didn't list it but it works)

Since Lions Mane has a shellfish flavor, I decided to make a mock "surf and turf".  One thing I had read was that to get the most out of the flavor enhancers and enzymes, it was best to cook mushrooms slowly (McGee 9498).  Hmmmm slow cooked "lobster".......I got it!  I was going to butter poach the mushrooms and pair them with slow roasted beef. 

Butter Poached Lions Mane Mushrooms
serves: 4

  • 1 Lions Mane mushroom*, cut into 1/4" slices
  • 1/2 cup clarified butter
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/8th tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8th tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh parsley, finely minced
  1. Place all of the poaching ingredients except the mushroom and parsley in a small pot and bring temperature to 160 f over med-low to low heat. 
  2. Add the mushroom and allow to poach for 30 minutes.  Add the parsley and poach another five minutes.
  3. Serve over grilled steaks.
  • I'm not sure how this would work with any mushroom other than lions mane since it has a unique shellfish flavor.  
  • The mushrooms should poach for at least 30 minutes to get tender but will hold just fine over low temps longer than that.  Our older son didn't get home until an hour after dinner and they were still great then.
Alexis declared that these were the best mushrooms she had ever eaten and the boys scraped the last leftover bits out of the pot.  The butter poaching does give them a luxurious texture that I have to admit, does have a shellfish taste and feel.  The best part was when you would get a chunk of buttery sweet garlic and mushroom together in one bite.  Delicious! I served them with a slow roasted top sirloin but I think the mushrooms would be even better served with a nice grilled strip steak or ribeye.
Lions Mane on the grow kit.  Odd looking things, right?

The flesh is thick, white, and meaty.
This series was written in conjunction with Brewer's Mushrooms.  It is a joint project with a local expert and is not a paid advertisement.  Hugh Brewer is trained in mycorestoration and Brewer's Mushrooms has been specializing in fresh gourmet mushrooms for years.  Brewer's Mushrooms offers fresh mushrooms at local markets, CSA shares, grow kits, and workshops.


  1. I haven't seen or heard of these mushrooms before and I would be just like you, intrigued by the lobster flavor. they are definitely odd looking, but I'm game and your mock surf and turf is mouth watering!

  2. Please tell me you live in San Diego...want this dish so bad! Those mushrooms sounds really intense.

    1. I just got some at the Farmers Market in La Mesa CA

  3. had me at butter..ha ha. These mushrooms look so interesting and what???they taste like lobster?? I would love to try these!

  4. Odd looking things, right? Yes, it looks like a mutant but I'm sure the mushrooms would be great with a ribeye or filet! Mushrooms have to be one of the best foods on earth and I thank you for the list of pairings! I'm starved now after seeing this and we're having tacos tonight...

  5. This is a new fun-ga-roid for me. But I never met a mushroom I did not like.

  6. I am really intrigued. I developed allergies to shellfish a few years ago (no shrimp, crab or lobster anymore). I choose life, so I have come to terms with this allergy, but if I can cook mushrooms that taste a little like lobster? I will be all over this recipe! Thanks for sharing, Chris!

    Kim in MD

  7. Wow I haven't heard of these mushrooms but I bet they are good. The look is scary but I'll try anything once. Thanks for sharing I can always look to find something different here.

  8. Mushrooms are umami-central! Not flavor acceptors, flavor DONATORS.

    That lion's mane mushroom looks like a bad hair day waiting to happen. I mean that in the most delicious way possible.

  9. I've never heard of lions mane mushrooms before. They look interesting and I too am intrigued by the fact that they have a shellfish flavor. I bet it was just perfect over that steak. Oh how I wish my Chris didn't hate mushrooms!!!

  10. You're killing me with these shrooms, I feel a trip to Sevierville coming on soon.

  11. Oh my GOSH, you are killing me again. I love love love mushrooms. I actually have a kitchen garden kit going in my own kitchen right now! Mine aren't lion's mane though. I seriously need to find these mushrooms. I am determined to try them.

  12. Man-oh-man that looks good! I'm a big mushrooms and steak fan and will have to try and hunt some of Lions Manes down. Are they sold commercially or do you have to raise them from a kit?

    I was 'shroomin' with the brother-in-laws last spring and came across something they called a "lobster" mushroom. It was the color of cooked lobster. None of us were brave enough to find out if it was good to eat. Good thing, as the Google says it's what happens when a mushroom gets infected and can be both psychotropic and deadly. That could have sure cut the weekend fun short.

  13. These look more like Kiwis than mushrooms.

    If I can be a little graphic, these look less like a lion's mane and more like a lion's dangly bits.

    Just sayin...

  14. I LOVE the Flavor Bible - it's my go-to book for almost every meal. Mushrooms that taste like lobster...mmmmm...interesting... but find me a mushroom that tastes like chocolate! Now THAT would be something! I've never heard of Lion Mane shrooms...will put them on my list, I'm sure I can find them at Pike Place Market. Everything about this dish appeals to me - will make it as soon as I get back to my own kitchen!

  15. I love mushrooms!!!I haven't seen or heard of these mushrooms before!!!I would love to try them.

  16. I'd love to be able to find these mushrooms. I love mushrooms served with steak and think this is incredibly clever for a take on surf and turf. Love all the mushroom facts.

  17. I've never even heard of these before... I'll be on the lookout! Butter poached mushrooms sound like heaven!

  18. Thanks Chris...looks awesome...once again!

  19. I have just met Tami N Hugh Brewer about two years ago I have learned so much about these mushrooms they are grown organic,no pesticides.
    There are so many other types of mushrooms besides Lions mane like the Blue oyster, Shiitake, Reishi there are so many types of mushrooms that r grown im still do not know all names but it is so interesting to learn and to taste, have fun,to attend a class feel free to inquire about their web site I am still learning so much about these great natural healthy mushrooms. You will have so much fun, n u get to take home a log for ur self ur choice. they taste wonderful n believe me u will not be let down.if u think this is way to much well, it is not, im honest about these mushrooms i have watched them grow n moved n tasted n learned alot from them . not just great on food but also great for ur health

  20. Chris, I've wanted to try growing my own shitakes for a long time but the kits are very expensive. Came across this video and thought you might be interested.

  21. we found one of near our house so we picked it found out it was a mushroom we wonder if we could eat it we search it we found this website we trying it right now

  22. You can get grow you own lions mane kits for $25 at the liongate market,asheville.

  23. I had to try Lion's Mane because if its claim to tasting like lobster, but as seafood lover, I must disagree. The texture of the mushroom is similar to shellfish, and to me, it's more reminiscent of flat flavored scallops in texture. But I can't sense any sea fragrance/taste, and most of the flavor comes from what you cook it in (such as butter, garlic,etc) along with a mild mushroom flavor. In fact, I've just finished another plate full of it from my grow kit as well, and they're very easy to grow with additional benefit of neuroprotective effects - improves your memory and mood. It's definitely worth trying - as I sure had to - but you will be disappointed if you're expecting to taste a mock lobster. I've tried Lion's Mane along with Blue Oyster mushrooms side by side, and the Blue Oyster mushrooms hands down won out in flavor and texture. Blue Oysters are also easy to grow, and does not compare at all to store bought Oyster mushrooms.

  24. I just found some lion's main, and of all the recipes this is the one I've chosen to make to take advantage of the last few days of good grilling weather.

  25. We just started selling them, we would love recipes if you share some with us!

  26. First time I have learned about this new mushroom before that I did not hear about this mushroom but looking some odd and quite interesting. Thanks

  27. Absolutely delicious! I had to pet mine a little before I cooked it! But finally a about a quarter stick of butter (the maNE really soaks it in just as you would expect) and a bit of olive oil, which I think added something flavourwise, and, yeah - tastes just like lobster - or close enough. It's really a treat!

  28. Lion's Mane grows on dead or dying trees.If you find one, write down where you found it and what time of year.This one started around the first of November. Go back and look for it again next year. I'm cooking one as I write this, one that I've harvested every year for 3 years. The first one was about 13" across!I try to eat mushrooms every day, so the above recipe is how I make it-- for soups, omelettes or in a burrito---anywhere you'd use store mushrooms. A little cream sauce,over pasta--m-m-m! If it's very large, cook and freeze.

  29. Just one more thing-don't eat any wild mushrooms raw-always cook them. If it's the first time you've tried one, eat only a little, and go easy on drinking wine with the meal. Some people are allergic, and wine will intensify any upsets.