For ages, we were told not to wash our mushrooms because they would absorb the water. So we laboriously used a damp cloth to wipe down each mushroom. A mushroom brush was presented as a dubious time-saving solution in the ’70s, but you still had to brush each mushroom. Honestly, you can just give them a very quick rinse, then toss them gently in a clean towel until dry. Most cooked mushroom dishes start with a sauce, in butter or olive oil. I recommend sautéing them separately from your other starting ingredients like onions, garlic or celery, to retain the strongest mushroom flavor possible.
Then mix the mushrooms with your other ingredients. Although mushrooms feel very dry, after a few minutes over heat they exude a lot of moisture. So keep the heat on high and move the mushrooms around in the pan so the moisture evaporates quickly. You don’t want the mushrooms to stew if you’re going to use them over pasta or rice or with a vegetable. If you’re combining them with stroganoff, just pour the mushroom juices in with the sauce.
Mushrooms are sprouting on menus across Utah.
Morels and Asparagus: These ingredients are the epitome of spring, and not much needs to be done to make them perfect when they’re in season. Oquirrh, 368 E. 100 South, SLC, 801-359-0426 oquirrhslc.com
Alpine nachos are a kitchen classic here: house-made chips topped with forest mushrooms, thin bits of speck and fontina cheese. Log Haven, 6451 E. Millcreek Canyon Rd., SLC, 801-272-8255, log-haven.com
Enoki salad: Enoki are startlingly beautiful on the plate and Chef Sergei Oveson is wise not to dress them up–a minimum of herbs and dressing just sets off the pure mushrooms. Ramen Haus, 250 Washington Blvd., Ogden, 801-393-0000
House-made ravioli: The salt sweet of ham is a natural companion to mushrooms. Here, ravioli is stuffed with mushrooms and combined with prosciutto for a pure Italian dish. Sicilia Mia, 4536 S. Highland Dr., SLC, 801-274-0223, go to siciliamia.com for other locations.