Last Updated: June 29, 2020
Mushrooms are quite the underrated ingredient, and personally, I’ve always wondered why. I’ve heard stories of people having an immense gag reaction to mushrooms, and of course, I’ve also heard of people professing their undying love for this fantastic fungi.
As you can tell, I belong to the latter camp. As someone who adores mushrooms in almost any dish, I was pretty surprised by some of the fun facts I came across as I collated this list of 10 moreish mushrooms that you’ve probably heard of.
Typically native to grasslands in Europe and North America, portobello mushrooms are also referred to as ‘portabellas’. This type of mushroom is distinguished by its large top which can reach up to six inches in diameter. When they are not mature, they can either be either white or brown.
They have a “meaty flavour” and dense texture. Also, portobello mushrooms are the most mature mushrooms here; it’s really just an overgrown white mushroom!
Due to its distinct size, flavour, and texture, it’s commonly used as a meat substitute and can endure high cooking temperatures, making it favourable for grilling and baking.
Price: S$3.95 – S$6.95
Also known as black mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms translates to ‘oak fungus’ in Japanese. It’s an East Asian variety that can be found in the wild, although these days, they are also widely farmed. They are best identified by their umbrella-shaped brown caps, which curl under slightly.
Fresh shiitakes have a light woody flavour and aroma, while their dried counterparts are more intense.
Due to its hardy structure, they are used often in broths as well as Asian medicine.
Price: S$2.95 – S$16.50
A common name for button mushrooms is ‘white mushrooms’ and it’s the most common type of mushroom, with the cultivation of this mushroom in over 70 countries. They can come in both white and brown varieties.
Although similar-looking mushrooms can grow in the wild, be wary as they can be poisonous!
Button mushrooms are mild-tasting, so they are very versatile in the kitchen. As the most commonly found and bought mushroom in the supermarket, you can use these in almost every recipe from pizzas to salads to soups.
Price: S$3.55 – S$7.95
Enoki mushrooms are typically found in Japanese cuisine where it’s usually called ‘enokitake‘. They are easily identifiable due to their slim, pin-like appearance and white colour.
In the wild, they grow on Chinese Hackberry trees, ash trees, mulberry trees, and persimmon trees.
Did you know you can enjoy enoki mushrooms raw? Although it has a delicate structure, it possesses a nice crunch, which makes it a favourite for adding to salads, for grilling and in soups.
Price: From S$0.80 per packet
Cremini mushrooms are commonly marketed as ‘baby bella’ or ‘baby portobello’ mushrooms because they are just that—a juvenile portobello mushroom (which is a matured white mushroom, remember?). These mushrooms are dark brown and firmer than the common white button mushroom.
Although the cremini mushroom is darker, firmer and more flavorful than its cousin, the white button mushroom, the two can be used interchangeably—great for when you’re looking at a recipe asking for either!
Cremini mushrooms are easily enjoyable; it is used frequently in stews and soups since they hold up better in liquid.
Price: From S$50 per 450g
Also known as pearl oyster mushroom or tree oyster mushroom, oyster mushrooms get their name from their texture, which mimics that of the bivalve of said crustaceans. These days, oyster mushrooms are commonly found in several different subtropical and temperate forests throughout the world.
They were first cultivated in Germany as a solution to manage food supply during World War I and is now grown commercially around the world for food. You can even cultivate this mushroom right at home!
Due to its mild flavour, oyster mushrooms are often used in Chinese and Japanese dishes such as soups and stir-fries. You may use them in salads as well, however, it is recommended that you cook them first, as raw oyster mushrooms possess a mild metallic flavour.
Price: S$2.20 – S$4.75
Chanterelle mushrooms are one of the most commonly eaten wild mushrooms. It’s common for those living in Europe to go picking for these mushrooms in forests, specifically under hardwood trees, such as oaks, and are harvested in autumn.
They are notoriously difficult to cultivate on a large scale, thus picking them by hand is the most common method of harvesting. This also explains its slightly higher price point.
It’s considered a gourmet mushroom, despite its ease of access in regions where it grows in the wild. They are easily distinguished by its bright yellow or orange colour, which certainly makes it stand out from the usual white or brown colour of other mushrooms.
They’re described as having an apricot-like scent, as well. When it comes to storing it in your fridge, they can last up to 10 days.
Most famously, it can be used in chanterelle sauce, but it can also be enjoyed in many European cuisines, including French and Austrian cuisines. Known for its slightly peppery flavour, it pairs particularly well with eggs.
Price: S$27 – S$41 per 450g
Porcini mushrooms (also known as king bolete or cèpe in French) are cultivated in Europe, North America, and parts of Asia. They grow naturally in pine forests at the base of trees, and the best season for harvesting is in autumn in central Europe, with much of the carefully-picked harvest dried for later consumption or export.
These are brown-capped mushrooms with thick, white stalks. The caps can range in size from 2.5cm to nearly 30cm.
Because of their status in fine cuisine, their short season, and how difficult they are to cultivate, porcini mushrooms can cost a pretty penny. A pound (approximately 450g) of fresh porcini mushrooms costs between USD$30 – USD$60, depending on the quality, with dried mushrooms priced slightly lower.
Prized by mushroom foragers, its flavour is often described as rich, nutty, and earthy, making them a robust addition to almost any recipe. However, they are most commonly added to risotto and pasta recipes, and can easily be enjoyed grilled, sautéed, braised, pan-fried, or stewed.
Price: S$7.95 – S$14
You can easily spot morel mushrooms by their honeycomb-like structure, and they also grow abundantly in the wild. They aren’t farmed, due to its complex and symbiotic relationship with the particular trees they grow near; it’s hard to replicate that in an artificial environment.
Think of a morel mushroom like a rock star in the mushroom world—they’re unique-looking, extremely rare, and ultimately one would have to pay a hefty price at a restaurant to enjoy them.
There have been recent developments in China when it comes to farming morels, but there is a huge debate about its quality, taste, and certainly its impact on the global morel market over time.
Due to its limited harvest period, morel mushrooms are usually found between March and May, during spring. Thus, they can be quite expensive when they are in season, costing upward of USD$20 per pound (approximately 450g).
Although tender, morel mushrooms are known for its meaty texture. Because of this, it’s best to not over-season them as they already possess a rich nutty flavour. They work well by simply pan-frying them and adding them to risotto, but do remember to always cook morel mushrooms as raw versions are known to cause an upset stomach.
Price: From S$27 per 450g
Unbeknownst to many, there are many types of truffle mushrooms. This umbrella term is used to describe several species of fungus that grow underground. The fungus grows as a network of “threads” that wind around and into the roots of trees.
They are, in fact, the subterranean fruiting bodies of a fungus, and look knobby, with a somewhat “ugly” appearance—unlike more common mushroom varieties that have a cap and stem.
The reason behind truffle mushrooms’ exorbitant price is the notorious difficulty in cultivating them. They only like very specific kinds of soils and trees. Because they live inside tree roots, you also can’t plant truffle seeds in a field.
It takes about seven to 15 years of cultivation before you can start harvesting truffle mushrooms, and highly-trained dogs, pigs or human foragers will dig for them.
Truffle mushrooms are famously known to be used in French and Italian cuisine, due to its potent pungent aroma. They are also appreciated for its rich, nutty, and umami flavour. Plenty of professional chefs use these mushrooms in its raw form as heat mellows its distinct smell and taste.
Price: S$131 – S$234 per 28g
Now that you’re up to speed with some of the more common mushroom types, it’s time to hit the supermarket and load up on some ‘shrooms to add to your next dish. I personally love adding a medley of mushrooms to pasta sauces or to enjoy with a juicy slab of steak, but whatever you fancy, be sure to add this ‘fun guy’ to the party!