Did you know there are two mushroom farms on the doorstep of the ACT? Majestic Mushrooms of Murrumbateman and Canberra Mushrooms of Yass are both farmed within 50 kilometres of Canberra. You can buy local mushrooms at Choku Bai Jo in North Lyneham and Curtin. A tip for young players, if you want to buy local, give the nationwide chain stores a miss. But you can find local mushrooms at SupaBarn and Ziggy’s shops across the ACT.
Mushrooms are incredibly versatile and, in my humble opinion, ridiculously delicious. I like to buy Swiss Brown or Portabello mushrooms because I find they have more flavour than the more common white cap or button mushrooms. Swiss Browns are those that have light brown caps. I love to fry them in butter and use them in a brunch frittata with potato and goat cheese. When Swiss Browns mature and open up, they are called Portabello and have an even stronger flavour. Portabellos make an amazing veggie burger; grilled on the BBQ; or stuffed with some fresh breadcrumbs, thyme and pecorino cheese.
We’re also blessed to have Li-Sun Exotic Mushrooms so close to Canberra. Dr Noel Arrold grows a wonderful array of mushrooms in a disused railway tunnel near Mittagong. His selection includes funghi of all shapes, sizes and colours. You can taste some of his range at his stall at the Capital Region Farmers Market; he always has samplers on the go. Mushroom tempura is a fun way to show off the wonderful shapes and textures of a selection. I highly recommend including the long thin Enoki mushrooms in your tempura selection. The shape is amazing and works great to dunk in a little soy sauce, but the flavour they take on when cooked like this is great. My current favourite from Noel’s range is the Oyster mushroom, which comes in grey or pink varieties. I love the delicate flavour and silken texture of this mushroom and cook it simply in a little butter and macadamia oil with salt and pepper. I also love the pretty Chestnut mushrooms. They have a rich earthy flavour, and beautiful shape with a thin stalk and neat round cap. They’re great in mushroom risotto. You can also buy fresh Shiitake mushrooms that are great in a simple stir fry with some Chinese broccoli.
I’m also very excited about the grow-your-own kits he has on offer at the moment. You can take home your own tub of young exotic mushrooms and grown them on your balcony before adding them to your favourite mushroom dinner. Wouldn’t that be fun!?