When I first encountered the cauliflower mushroom, I didn’t recognize it was a mushroom at all. The word “encounter” is no exaggeration. At first, I thought it was some alien life form.
Despite its weird look, cauliflower mushroom is a delicious edible, with a chewy texture and an earthy nutty flavor, slightly spicy with a hint of almonds. Thanks to its unique chewy, crispy texture, even people who usually don’t like mushrooms can eat and enjoy it.
Cauliflower mushroom is round with a unique look, resembling a sponge, brain, or cauliflower. It can weigh several pounds, is light-brown or ochre, 3-24 inches wide, and up to 12 inches tall. It branches out from a central tuber-like stalk into hundreds of leafy protrusions with a waxy texture. It has an earthy smell.
The spore print is ocher.
Due to their unique look, cauliflower mushrooms can be mistaken only for another mushroom of the same genus. All of them are edible. Coral mushrooms (Ramaria species) bear some resemblance but are very different in shape, branching upwards in a coral-like manner.
In the temporal zone, you can find cauliflower mushrooms from summer to fall, in warmer regions during winter. They grow at the base of pine and other coniferous trees. On the East coast, they grow on hardwood trees.
They are hard to find, but the difficulties don’t end with finding one.
Cauliflower mushrooms are a pain to clean. They can have hundreds of grains of sand in their folds. It takes a lot of patience to remove them all. You can use a toothbrush. A great trick is to cut the mushroom into small pieces and cook it. The sand will fall off and drop to the bottom of the pot.
Make sure to remove all the debris from the mushroom! Biting into a grain can spoil the meal, the day, and, worst of all, a tooth.
STORING CAULIFLOWER MUSHROOMS
Unlike other mushrooms, cauliflower mushroom doesn’t rot fast. Put it in a bowl of cold water, and it will keep for a week or more. If you need to preserve it for longer, drying, canning in saltwater, or freezing cooked are all legitimate options.
Read about the various methods of storing mushrooms in this post.
HOW TO PREPARE CAULIFLOWER MUSHROOM
Cauliflower mushrooms are culinary universal. They are most commonly cooked in soups and sauces which allow the crispy texture to excel. In Asia, they are used in ramen and risotto meals.
My favorite way of preparation is the fake stripe soup, a delicious recipe with a genius combination of spices like sweet paprika and marjoram.
If you want to enjoy the unique earthy flavor of your cauliflower mushroom, try this straightforward risotto.
Cauliflower mushroom risotto (hanabiratake risotto)Course: Main CourseCuisine: American, Italian, Japanese, Korean
This is a plain & delicious recipe without any vegetables, which allows the earthy flavor of the cauliflower mushroom to fortify the risotto’s essence.
1 lb fresh cauliflower mushroom
4 tbsp oil
2 chopped onions
1 tsp lemon juice
2 minced cloves of garlic
3 cups vegetable stock
3 cups of rice
grated cheese (preferably parmesan)
- Carefully clean the mushroom.
- Cook the rice with a pinch of salt for 15-20 minutes, depending on the type of rice.
- Warm 2 spoons of oil in a pot. Add onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, until onion becomes translucent.
- Add rice and stir so that each grain is covered in oil. Add stock, a pinch of salt, and continue cooking.
- Chop the mushroom into small pieces.
- Warm 2 spoons of oil on another pan. Add the mushroom and lemon. Sauté for 10 minutes.
- Add the mushroom to the pot. Add 1/2 of the cheese and stir up.
- Cover and cook for 15 more minutes.
- Put on plates, add the rest of the cheese and serve immediately.
- Remove the cheese to make the meal vegan.
- Chardonnay is the best wine to combine with mushroom risotto.
- During the final phase, watch the cooking carefully and add water if necessary.
Research has shown that cauliflower mushrooms contain several substances with healing effects, most importantly anticancer, anti-obesity, anti-inflammatory, immunostimulatory, and antibacterial ones.
When I looked through papers and studies about cauliflower mushroom, I realized that there is an even greater potential in it than I imagined. Its compounds are being researched for a lot of effects, with some of them being tested on mice or in clinical trials already. I will be adding information about them to this post as those studies end.
Learn more about the medicinal effects of mushrooms in this post.
HOW TO GROW CAULIFLOWER MUSHROOM?
Cauliflower mushroom needs a humid, shady environment and might be difficult to grow artificially. To try to grow one, inject liquid syringe culture into a pine stump or log. Growing cauliflower mushrooms on a living tree would probably kill it, as the mushroom causes brown rot.
You will occasionally find cauliflower mushrooms in a market or specialized shop, but they are seasonal and quite rare. Forager shops sometimes have dehydrated cauliflower mushrooms for sale, but those sell out fast.
It has already been cultivated in Japan as hanabiratake for several years. Due to that and to the existence of a cultivation patent, we could see mass cultivated cauliflower mushrooms sold in supermarkets and as food supplements quite soon.