Thursday, May 14, 2009

Forager walks into a bar...

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.


matt wright said...

blimey mate, this looks awesome. Would never have thought to do a miso soup with that puffball of yours.

Unknown said...

Awesome. Wish I could find one of those on the CSUS campus.

Langdon Cook said...

Matt - Swing by Mt. Baker hood and I'll gift you some...

Garrett - Seems to me Sacramento should be a good locale for puffballs, although maybe it's too late. You might try logging clearcuts up in the Sierra Nevada. They like openings, meadows, disturbed areas...not shade. BTW, so cool that you're growing lemongrass.

Julia said...

I've only had a puff-ball once a long time ago... can't remember what they taste like. I'd love to try them again and miso soup sounds like a grand way.

dp said...

Good lord, a 10 pound mushroom! Right in the center of an urban area?! Total score!

P.S. congratulations on the radio gig!

Nadya said...

Aw - & with that Alien Egg title, I thought you were in my neck of the woods, where the 2nd largest Alien fest in the nation begins Fri!! (only topped by R. New Mexico!) . . .

sounds delightful - love that miso soup idea!

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

A 10-pound shroom?! Yikes. Datsa alotta food...You can freeze or dry them, right? And yes, it is far too late for puffpalls in Sacto. They come around February and March here...

codfish said...

Lovely soup. Does the puff-ball taste like white-button mushrooms (I'm guessing since you said it's a dead ringer for tofu.)

Peabody said...

That looks delish. I love miso soup and yours looks extra special.

Langdon Cook said...

Julia - A giant puffball, when sliced open and in mint condition, smells a lot like your typical domestic market 'shroom. When cooked the taste is a little more subtle.

DP - Portland probably has a few of these bad boys loitering around somewhere unexpected.

Dia - If you arrived at your Alien Fest cradling one of these, I guarantee you'd get some looks.

Hank - I'm guessing a quick saute and freeze job will work. Will report back.

Codfish - Yes, though more delicate. It's no morel or porcino, but it's good when used properly and there's a lot of it!

Peabody - If I served you this miso you might eat all the "tofu" and not realize it's puffball. That's how similar the "look & feel" are.

petey said...

Garrett, head up to Bassi Falls in the Eldorado National Forest. Quick. I was up there last weekend and saw at least 30 puffballs growing right alongside the dirt road leading to the falls. Picked about 10 of them, left the rest.

You only want to eat the nice firm ones whose flesh is white all the way through--no yellowing.

Turnoff to Bassi Falls is directly opposite Silver Fork Campground on Ice House Rd. Then follow signs to falls and keep your eyes peeled. Even if you don't find any table fare, the falls are spectacular right now.

49thgirl said...

I found an 8-9 lb. one yesterday in West Seattle. It's about 15" x 13" and 7-1/2" high! It's beautiful and barnacled. We sliced it open and made some 1/2-inch thick "steaks". One steak filled each frying pan. We fried them in butter and sprinkled with garlic salt, cooking until the outsides were golden. Yum! Tasted like soft buttery super-tender sauteed chicken breast. Kind of melted in your mouth.

I've got a question. When we sliced it, scattered in the dense white flesh were small translucent "stripes", reminding me of a few random-placed, severely-underdeveloped gills. These seemed to weep out moisture when fried. Do you know what these translucent "stripes" could be? They definitely are part of the mushroom, not worm-holes. And they seemed to be located in the flesh nearest the outer edges of each "bloom", not in the flesh at the center.


Anonymous said...

Found one giant Puffball today,I live in Scotland,so them thing have to be searched out,I am planning a soup,with the puffball,chantrels,oinions,fried in ghee,the rest is for you guy's to decide,its a good start though.