Sauteed Giant Puffball or King Oyster Mushrooms

By • April 9, 2011 • 14 Comments



Author Notes: When I was little, my grandmother used to forage for mushrooms in the old cemetery behind her home. In the fall, she would get these enormous Puffball mushrooms (Langermannia gigantea) and cook them simply in butter and oil, and they were such a treat! I've added some fresh herbs to enhance their flavor. Normally about the size of a large ball of buffalo mozarella (although often MUCH larger), Puffballs don't have gills, and when they are fresh, they are solid white throughout with a squeaky, slightly marshmallowy consistency (see photo #3). They don't give off all the liquid that gill mushrooms do, and brown very nicely. You obviously have to know what you are doing to hunt for wild mushrooms on your own, and if you don't live in a region where Puffballs grow, or you're not sure about the species, the giant King Oyster mushrooms available in many Asian groceries are similar in taste and texture when they are very fresh (see photo #2). You could easily add garlic or shallots to this recipe, but the mushrooms have a very mild flavor that is lovely on its own.

Photo #1 courtesy of the Wisconsin Mycological Society
Photo #2 courtesy of Petitchef.com
Photo #3 courtesy of http://www.silysavg.com/
Burnt Offerings

Serves 4 - 6

  • 1 pound Fresh Puffball or King Oyster Mushroom (seasonings are per pound)
  • 4 tablespoons Butter
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 sprigs Fresh rosemary, leaves removed from center twig, but kept intact in small bunches
  • 3 teaspoons Kosher salt + more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Fresh ground black pepper
  1. Clean the mushroom by using a damp paper towel to remove any dirt, and trim the stem end with a paring knife so all that remains is white flesh. If the Puffball is very large, it's a good idea to peel it first - the outer skin can get leathery.
  2. Slice the puffball into large slices, about 1/4 inch thick. If using King Oyster Mushrooms, slice them lengthwise as thickly and evenly as you can.
  3. Stud the mushroom slices with the rosemary leaves, and sprinkle liberally with 1/2 the salt and pepper.
  4. Melt the butter and oil over medium heat in a large skillet until foamy.
  5. Lay the mushroom slices in the skillet and fry them until they are well browned - about 3-4 minutes depending on their size.
  6. Flip the slices over, season again with remaining salt and pepper, and sprinkle with fresh thyme while waiting for the other side to brown.
  7. Serve immediately with a nice steak, grilled chicken, or all by themselves with just a salad and bread.

Tags: savory, simple, wild mushrooms

Comments (14) Questions (0)

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9 months ago Jerry

Found my first giant puffball. Sliced it into steaks, ran them through an egg wash, then into seasoned flour, and fried them in a 1/4" of oil in a cast iron skillet. By far the best mushroom I have ever eaten.

Scan0004

over 3 years ago susan g

We found puffballs when we first moved to NH, and never have found them again. I saw the King Oyster mushrooms for the first time this week, in a huge Korean grocery (H Mart) where we are visiting and wondered about them. Nothing from my parents' generation, but I bet my grandparents foraged and ate mushrooms before they emigrated here.

Burnt_offering

over 3 years ago Burnt Offerings

Try the King Oyster mushrooms from H Mart - that's where I get mine. They're delicious, keep well, and are very versatile. Try them simply like this first, to get a feel for their taste and texture, but I love them. As for the puffballs, I think the weather has a lot to do with them. Some years they are plentiful, almost unavoidable, and other years are very hard to find.

Me

over 3 years ago wssmom

I have heard of fairy circles but I never associated them with these extraordinary-looking mushrooms. Thanks so much for posting this! !

Dscn2212

over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Well what is food if not sharing and memory - recent or past? You've tapped a deep vein; be happy! CLEARLY, we are!

Gator_cake

over 3 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Oh the memories! My mom used to eat puffball's when I was a kid. I don't think I even tried them, since I hated mushrooms!

Burnt_offering

over 3 years ago Burnt Offerings

I wonder why everyone's memories for these go back two generations? They may not be as pungent as truffles, but they are certainly as welcome, seasonal, and rare a delicacy as morels. They are almost eggplant-like in their meaty texture. I also remember going through the fields and woods and stomping on the old ones to watch the spores explode like little smoke bombs - hence the name "puffball".

Dscn2212

over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

That is a lovely observation about generations, Burnt. I taught a high-altitude baking class last night, and the age range of attendees was from probably 75 to 25. Their respective baking experiences and memories were remarkably different. I'm still processing it all because there were so many stories shared (that's typical), but in ways I never expected. I am immeasurable grateful to be able to do what I do. I'll work this into a story, but not sure what I'll do with it. Thanks for prompting me to think about it all further. Given the tenor of posts you've received, you have clearly contributed much more than a recipe.

Burnt_offering

over 3 years ago Burnt Offerings

boulangere - I CLEARLY did not post this in any kind of hope of being an EP - it's far too esoteric, but when Food52 said - "post your favorite / best mushroom recipe"? This is my favorite / best mushroom memory / experience. And I kind of like to think that's a big part of Food52 - even if it's not part of a commercial cookbook or database.

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over 3 years ago GiGi26

My husband has told me stories about gathering "Puff Ball" mushrooms with his grandparents in Ontario when he was a boy. I have never seen them until now. Thanks for sharing this!

Dscn2212

over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I've never seen anything like them - how beautiful!

Burnt_offering

over 3 years ago Burnt Offerings

They're exquisite. My grandmother lived in Western PA, and they are quite plentiful there. We used to eat them like slabs of steak and they were one of my best and earliest food memories. Of course, I didn't appreciate just what a delicacy they were until I was older, but I have to say, the Giant King Oysters are a decent substitute and readily available most places.

Dscn2212

over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

What a wonderful memory to have, and great description, "eat them like slabs of steak." Your photo could have come straight out of Harry Potter.

Burnt_offering

over 3 years ago Burnt Offerings

It's funny you say that, because they sometimes grow in large circles, called "fairy circles, or pixie circles" http://en.wikipedia.org...