This week, we're lacing up our boots, buying a truffle pig, and going foraging in the Safeway produce section. From criminis to shiitakes, Matthew and Molly discuss the finer points of our most common fungi and, once and probably not for all, answer the age-old question: what's the best way to clean a dirty mushroom?

Adapted from Jamie's Italy, by Jamie Oliver

This dish is extremely adaptable, so what follows is more of a method than a true recipe.  To give you an idea of proportions: for two people, you might want two small handfuls of crimini mushrooms, ¾ to 1 standard-size ball of fresh mozzarella, and the leaves from one sprig of thyme.  That, plus some bread and a salad, is a nice, light lunch. 

Fresh mushrooms, such as crimini, porcini, shiitake, or portobello
Fresh mozzarella
Olive oil
Fresh thyme, leaves removed and stem discarded
Sea salt

Preheat the broiler.

Clean the mushrooms, and then slice them thinly, no thicker than ¼ inch. Arrange them in a single layer on a large ovenproof platter. Tear the mozzarella into coarse bits – each about the size of a nickel – and scatter them over the mushrooms. Drizzle with olive oil. Scatter the thyme leaves over the top, along with a good pinch or two of salt.

Slide the platter under the broiler, and cook, checking frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the cheese is melted, bubbling, and golden in spots. Serve with plenty of bread.


3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 pound cremini mushrooms, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
6 dried red chiles (such as Arbol, Japones, or Tien Tsin)
1/2 teaspoon crushed sichuan peppercorns

2 tablespoons black vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine

1/2 cup roasted peanuts
2 scallions, green parts only, sliced
Stir together sauce ingredients in a bowl. Heat peanut oil in wok or skillet. Cook mushrooms until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, chiles, and Sichuan peppercorns and cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add sauce and peanuts and cook until sauce is reduced to your liking. Garnish with scallions and serve with plenty of steamed rice.

Yield: 2 to 3 servings.

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