Shortly after Russula brevipes emerges on the forest floor, it becomes victim to a delicious pathogen; Hypomyces lactifluorum, which usually completely covers the mushroom in a firm red-orange crust, very reminiscent of a cooked lobster shell.
photo from here
Sometimes the gills from Russula brevipes are still intact inside the lobster mushroom!
It's lobster mushroom season right now in the Pacific Northwest, and Alex and I were in Seattle a few weeks ago for two reasons. First, we originally bought plane tickets to attend our good friend's wedding (at Tree House Point, OMG it was gorgeous!). And the second reason we were in Seattle was completely on the other end of the emotional spectrum.
My good friend, previous neighbor/land-lady, bridesmaid in my wedding, and reader-of-this-blog passed away all too young after her arch nemesis, metastatic breast cancer, took a turn for the worse. For years Candice and her husband, Joe were outstanding hosts of our weekly potluck/game-night gathering of friends. Even when Candice wasn't feeling well or even when she was in the hospital, she insisted that the potluck will go on! Because that's exactly who she was. She did everything in her power to live a totally kick-ass life (and inspire others to do the same!), and she loathed the thought of anyone canceling their fun plans on account of her. And so, after she left us, it seemed necessary that the potluck should go on. Even though some of us had scattered out of state, we all made the trip back to This Old House for a bittersweet potluck/game-night reunion.
I've never lost someone so close to me before, and this roller-coaster of grief is really bizarre. Food is certainly an extension of my emotions and I've been swinging between complete lack of appetite and manic elation over seemingly random foods. For example, lobster mushrooms. The morning after our potluck/game-night reunion, a few of us went to the University District Farmers Market. When I saw that Foraged & Found Edibles was selling lobster mushrooms, I was ecstatic. I bought way too many because I was certain, in that moment, that lobster mushrooms were the key to happiness and I desperately wanted to share this happiness with all my friends.
When choosing lobster mushrooms, I look for the cleanest ones, with the fewest nooks and crannies for dirt to hide in. Even the cleanest lobster mushrooms will still be dirty though. Running water and sometimes a brush are the easiest ways to clean these mushrooms.
We decided it was best to beer-batter and fry these mushrooms.
1 bottle of beer (we used Sierra Nevada Pale Ale)
1 cup flour
Salt & Pepper
Mix together the batter. Slice up the mushrooms into roughly 1/2inch thick slices. And prepare a plate of flour seasoned with salt and pepper.
Coat each mushroom slice in flour, shake off the excess, and then coat them in batter. Meanwhile, have a pot of vegetable oil heating up on the stove.
When the oil is hot (test it by throwing a pinch of flour in, if it bubbles wildly, it's ready), throw in some battered mushroom slices and fry them till they're golden brown.
Remove the slices from the frying pan and place them on a plate lined with paper towels. These can be kept warm in an oven while you fry the rest.
It can help to divide the work - Alex fried while I battered.
Elwood helped too.
A feast of beer-battered lobster mushrooms!
Previous posts about Lobster Mushrooms:
Fish & Chips
Tempura Lobster Mushroom
Creamy Cheesy Mushroom Medley with Rice
Lobster Mushroom Etouffe
Lobster Mushroom Fried with Brioche Crumbs
A "recipe" from Candice: