When you think of mushrooms, furry is probably not the first thing that comes to mind, but this is a mushroom that looks decidedly furry. To me, they look like Tribbles, those purring creatures from my favorite episode of Star Trek.
Don’t you just want to pet them? When you slice open a Lion’s Mane, the interior looks a lot like a tiny slice of cauliflower–lots of branching structure, radiating out from the base. As you might imagine, this makes them soak up sauces with greater ferocity than your standard button mushroom. They are like delicious little flavor sponges. All of those little branches also create a different textural experience, and this is a good “meat substitute” mushroom, when properly prepared.
I buy cultivated Lion’s Manes whenever they are available at our Farmers’ Market, from a Colorado grower called Hazel Dell. They also grow certified organic Cinnamon Caps, Oyster Mushrooms, Shiitakes, and standard button mushrooms. Mushrooms are one of my favorite foods, hands down, but for some reason I do not do shiitakes. One of the rare foods I do not like. However, give me a plate of Lion’s Mane or Oyster mushrooms, and you will make me happy. Like many mushrooms, Lion’s Manes are considered something of a “superfood” due to their antioxidant properties, and you can buy them in powdered or extract form for medicinal purposes–but I much prefer to just eat them. The best way to cook these is also really simple–brush them off, slice them, and cook them in some salted butter with some crushed garlic and a shake of ground white pepper. Absolute heaven.
Update: Many people have asked where they can buy fresh Lion’s Mane Mushrooms around the country, and some readers have added helpful info in the comment sections of this post. If you know of a market in your area that carries them, please add a comment! Oregon Mushrooms ships wild, fresh Lion’s Manes when they are available, and they are working on offering them dried. Here’s a link to their page.
Cook them over medium-high heat and flip them just once, and the edges will get a little brown and crispy. This, with some scrambled eggs, is one of my favorite breakfasts. A note on cleaning: avoid washing these mushrooms whenever possible, as they will really soak up the water. If you must wash them, be sure to squeeze them dry so they will have a chance to brown. I clean mine by simply brushing or cutting off any debris.
Here’s my slightly more elaborate recipe, if you want to get fancy:
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 tart apple, cored and thinly sliced
- 1/2 pound Lion's Mane Mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced
- A good pinch of saffron threads
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- Heat the butter in a 12-inch skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the apple slices and cook, stirring frequently, until the apples just start to soften (or to your desired texture).
- Add the mushrooms, saffron, and white pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are soft. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Thanks for reading,