A lot of attention gets paid to wild mushrooms, but cultivated mushrooms are delicious in their own right. They also tend to be more readily available and less expensive.
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White Button Mushrooms
These are the mushrooms most of us first think of when we hear the word "mushroom." They come in a range of sizes. For deeper flavor look for specimens whose caps have "opened" so you can see the dark brown gills under the cap. You can use them in tons of ways in soup.
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Many people think shiitakes are wild. While they do grow in the wild, commercially available shiitakes are cultivated, in part because cultivating them has proven so successful. Shiitakes come in a range of sizes. Bigger ones have a deeper flavor but also a tougher texture (isn't everything in life a bit of a trade-off?). Shiitakes stems tend to be tough and are best removed before cooking. They make delicious mushroom stock, however, so save them in your freezer until you have a few cups... worth.
Shiitakes can stand up to strong flavors and are particularly good with ginger, soy, and even chiles. Or, try them with something just a bit sweet such as mushroom-stuffed squash.
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Cremini mushrooms look a lot like standard white button mushrooms, just brown. While the two are interchangeable in recipes, creminis have a slightly denser texture and deeper flavor than button mushrooms. Many people don't know that creminis are, in fact, baby portabellas (or, portabellas are just overgrown creminis!). They are especially delicious with wild rice, either in a pilaf or soup.
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Oyster mushrooms are more fragile than other cultivated mushrooms. They respond best to quick cooking over high heat like stir-frying.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Portabellas are big, fat, meaty, juicy mushrooms. As big as a human hand, these mushrooms are great for grilling and roasting. A whole grilled portabella makes a fabulous vegetarian main dish. Portabellas are simply creminis allowed to grow up. Look for fully exposed dark brown gills for the best flavor.
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Yellow Oyster Mushrooms
As you might imagine, yellow oyster mushrooms are simply a variety of oyster mushrooms. They are fragile, best cooked soon after acquiring, and have a brilliant sunny yellow color.