What is straw mushroom ?Update: 4/3/2013
These jolly mushrooms are called Volvariella volvacea. Their common name comes from the rice straw on which they are grown.
The straw mushroom, also called "paddy straw mushroom," is cultivated in the hot, steamy climate of Southeast Asia.
Attempts to grow them in the southern United States so far have been unsuccessful. They are not widely eaten in the United States, but worldwide they rank third in consumption, just behind Agaricus bisporus (the common store mushroom) and Lentinus edodes (shiitake).
Indeed, straw mushrooms have been used for food in China for two thousand years.
They are harvested in the "egg stage" before the caps have erupted from their confining universal veils. When sold in this condition they are called "unpeeled."
Research has shown that these unopened caps contain a more nutritious balance of amino acids than when opened, suggesting that these mushrooms could supplement proteins lacking in the Asian diet.
That is why this mushroom is seldom found "peeled," or in its mature state with the cap open.
The labels of canned straw mushrooms usually state whether the contents are peeled or unpeeled. The unpeeled mushrooms are stronger in taste.
Many companies sell the canned product with significant variations in taste and size. Dried mushrooms can be found in Chinese herbal outlets. These have a more intense flavor than those found in cans.
The appearance and taste of the dried mushrooms are quite different from those of the canned varieties. Even after a cool-water rinse, their strong flavor persists.
Do not burn your mouth by eating them too hot, for the liquor inside retains the cooking heat. A slightly metallic "off taste" is found in some brands.
Marinating with soy sauce and/or sherry helps to control this.
Add canned or dried mushrooms to your dish near the end of the cooking period. They merely need heating for a few minutes before eating.
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