Flouting conventional fungi wisdom

Just when you think you can’t be surprised by a new cooking technique, someone comes along to shake things up. The debate about whether to wash mushrooms before cooking has raged for decades, but how you should cook them was never in doubt – you saute them with butter or oil, right? Maybe not: according to Jim Fuller, co-founder of Australian meat alternative company Fable Food, for optimal results you should boil them instead. Several chefs chimed in to support this bold claim.

Why boil mushrooms? They can be cooked to optimal tenderness using this method, says Fuller, who adds that due to their unique cellular structure you can’t over-boil them. He elaborated in an Instagram post that for the best results you should add water a little at a time so when the mushrooms are boiled to tender perfection, you can “…let the water evaporate until the pan is basically dry. Then add oil or fat and your aromatic stuff. Quick saute or stir fry and season to taste with salt.”

Fuller admits that this method is controversial but he swears by it. Fellow chefs agreed with him, with Joshua Boucher saying “I’ve been doing this for years with massive dirty looks from across the kitchens I’ve worked in being called a cowboy but I prefer the term innovator!” If anyone has tried (or will try) this technique, let us know how well it works. It certainly has piqued my curiosity, but I’m out of mushrooms and won’t be shopping for another week or so.

Photo of Mushrooms with sesame and ginger from Observer Food Monthly by Nigel Slater

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  • Ingridemery  on  June 27, 2020

    I tried this before adding mushrooms to a fritatta – and I was blown away by the results. The taste coming out of ordinary button mushrooms was complex and nutty. It does take a long time but it is well worth it.

  • SheilaS  on  June 28, 2020

    I tried this today and like the method. It’s forgiving if you have mushrooms of different types or thicknesses as you can just add a bit more water to lengthen the cooking time for the big ones without drying out or burning the smaller ones. I also threw in a few slices of dried porcini which rehydrated and gave extra flavor to my boring old cremini.

    I followed the method in Jim Fuller’s Instagram, adding oil and salt after the pan was dry and finishing with a splash of Marsala. Next time, I’ll try this version from Janet Zimmerman’s Spruce Eats article where she adds salt and butter at the beginning: https://www.thespruceeats.com/a-new-way-to-cook-mushrooms-913400

    Oven-roasted mushrooms are still my favorite but these are still pretty great.

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