I absolutely LOVE oyster mushrooms. Love them. Not just because they are tasty and crazy plentiful when you find, them. I love them because they are kind of the honey badgers of the mushroom world. They don’t have a specific season. Pleurotis fruits when it damn well feesl like it. I’ve found them in December. The flip side of that means they have a mind of their own and you can’t really predict where or when you will find them. The best you can do is remember where you have found them and swing by those trees every once in a while. I guess the only real predictor might be precipitation.
They tend to be very abundant, and I have, on more than on occasion mind you, harvested 8 or 9 pounds of them at once. There are lots of way to prepare them, but my hubby’s favorite is as a cream sauce on steak. Calling it Surf and Turf is a play on words. Oysters… surf… get it?
We recently found a bunch that were a little older than I would have preferred, but they didn’t have any of the little beetles or yellow slime that so often infects them, and it had been a minute since we found any, so we harvested them.
There were some bugs in them, so I did have to rinse them pretty well, though. They were really huge!
After they were rinsed, I chopped them up to about ¼ inch pieces. I also chopped an onion and three cloves of garlic. Once everything was cut, I got a large, heavy skillet hot.
Once it was to temperature, I added a few tablespoons of really good olive oil and tossed in the steaks. WHAT?!?!? Yes. Cook the steaks first, and make sure you don’t incinerate them. Once they get to rare on the edge of medium, I remove them from the pan and let them go rest and finish to a solid medium.
I add half a cup of water to deglaze the pan and the onions and garlic. I brown them nicely; as in almost caramelize them.
Once there, add the chopped oysters, and a few tablespoons of butter. I like the heat tolerance of olive oil, but the flavor of butter. I often use both on concert with one another.
While it will be super tempting to stand over them and nag the hell out of them… don’t. Stir them, yes, but not constantly. Just enough to prevent sticking and if the pan gets too dry, add some water.
Once they have a lovely browning on them, give it a taste. Need salt? Pepper? Lemon juice? I find that acid helps cooking more than salt sometimes. Doctor as needed, then get a few cups of flour. You can used regular whole wheat flour, as well as soy flour if you are watching carbs. They both work. Start sprinkling flour over the cooked mixture to create a roux. You really have to play it by ear; the moisture level of the mushrooms is highly variable. When you get a nice, lumpy but evenly mixed wallpaper glue, you are there!!
Next you add milk, half and half or heavy cream. This also must be played by ear. Each of the previous liquids imparts different flavors and constituents to the sauce. You might have to play around a little to see what you prefer. If you use a heavy cream, and then finish with sour cream, you have a stroganoff sauce. Yes, you can use boring grocery store mushrooms. Bleh. If you must. If you use regular milk, you get a light sauce for steak. Half and half makes it more like a white gravy. See what you like.
Once your sauce is thick, creamy and the flour and cream have had a chance to fully cook, it should look like this. So back to the steak. You remember the steak, right? It should have had about 6 minutes to rest by this point. It should be on point with doneness and rested enough that it won’t bleed all over your plate.