Q: How do you eat a gigantic alien space egg?
A: Very carefully!
Da-dum-DUM! Thanks, I'll be here all week.
But seriously folks, I've been nibbling on this giant western puffball for days and barely made a dent. I figure it was close to 10 pounds when I found it on an eroded slope above MLK Jr. Blvd in Seattle this Monday en route to my radio gig. By contrast, the puffball at left—a bit smaller than a bowling ball—is half the size of the one I picked.
I gave away a good-sized chunk to the Puget Sound Mycological Society to entertain members at the monthly meeting; this chunk was donated in turn to Serafina restaurant in gratitude for their cooking demonstration at the meeting (yet another reason to join PSMS). The rest I've been cooking and eating ever since. Monday afternoon I served some of it to my son sauteed in scrambled eggs with cheddar. Tuesday night I made myself a late-night meal after the PSMS meeting, using this recipe and substituting the puffball for the porcini. And yesterday at lunchtime I took advantage of the mushroom's tofu-like qualities and used it in miso soup.
You might remember I went crazy for miso during a seasonal de-tox cleansing earlier this spring. It might have been too much of a good thing, and I forgot about how delicious a simple lunchtime miso can be. The puffball—sliced, cubed, and pan-fried—is a dead ringer for tofu and brought me back around to the joys of miso soup.
Puffball Miso Soup
1 cup cubed puffball mushroom
3 cups water
3 small carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
2 heaping tbsp miso
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
pinch wakame flakes
soy sauce to taste
1. Bring water to boil in pot and add carrots plus inner rings of sliced onion. Continue to simmer, covered.
2. Heat oil in pan. Add mushrooms. Chop remaining onions and add to pan. Carefully saute on medium-high so that cubed mushrooms are lightly and evenly browned. Lower heat.
3. When carrots are tender, stir in miso, then add wakame flakes and contents of saute pan to pot. Cook 2 more minutes and serve, seasoning with soy sauce.