Parasol Mushrooms (Macrolepiota procera) have to be one of my favourite funghi to find, partly because of their size and partly because they very often grow in large numbers – if you’re lucky you can pick a basket full of mushrooms in under a minute, now that’s my kind of foraging!
I very nearly missed this bounty of Parasols; were it not for my funghi peripherals continually on the look out for white on green (a promising sight for supper), I may well have cycled straight past them. Luckily I didn’t, as this is by far the best Parasol find I’ve ever had – I counted over thirty mushrooms in one field. Of course, one man, or even one family, cannot consume thirty Parasol mushrooms alone, so the majority were left for others to find or to drop their spores, however, as Parasols dry well, a few extra specimens were picked to go in the dehydrator - in order to build up a supply of ‘shrooms for the winter months.
There are two species of Macrolepiota that are regularly eaten in the UK; the Parasol and Shaggy Parasol (Macrolepiota rhacodes) – this post shows only the Parasol. It is worth being aware that the Shaggy Parasol can react badly with certain people, my mother being one of them – she endured a night of mild hallucination and dizziness after a Shaggy Parasol supper, even though the rest of us were fine. If you are unsure, try just a small piece first and progressively build up your portion size until you establish whether your body agrees with it.
|Photo taken on a film SLR and scanned in|
|A perfect ring of Parasols|
|Parasols were also found among the nettles around the edge of the field|
|Hand modelled by the dad - he's not abnormally short, they really are that big|
For this recipe, I’d suggest that one large Parasol would provide a good starter for two – say 3 or 4 fritters each. Alternatively, you could deep fry the Parasol whole (or in half if you come across a monster) in a larger pan and have it as a fish substitute for a vegetarian fish and chips dish, as it has much the same texture as a tail fillet of Cod – meaty and succulent, oh, and incredibly tasty.
As well as being incredibly tasty, this dish is also wonderfully simple to make;
Get your oil heating up before doing your mushroom prep. Use a super cheap veg or sunflower oil, no need to waste good olive oil. Check your oil regularly by dropping in a small cube of bread - the oil is at a perfect temperature when the bread fizzes and takes around 45s/1min to turn a nice brown colour. If at any point your oil starts smoking, take it off the heat, as it is far too hot.
Use only the head of the Parasol as the stem is tough and woody, though perfectly suitable for the stock pot should you happen to be making some at the time. Cut the head into good size chunks (as in picture below). Now you’ll need three bits of prep to complete your Parasol production line;
1. Pour some flour in a bowl and season with salt and pepper
2. Beat an egg and place in another bowl
3. Make breadcrumbs (simply blend bread) and put in another bowl
The order above is the order in which you should dip your Parasol pieces; flour / egg / breadcrumbs
|Parasol production in full swing|
|Breadcrumbed Parasols before being deep fried|
Once you've prepped all your Parasols, simply drop in the hot oil until golden brown on both sides (worth doing the breadcrumb trick again before dropping them all in). Take them out with a slotted spoon and onto some kitchen roll to soak up the excess oil. Give them a minute to cool off, as they come out mouth-burning-ly hot, and serve with mayo.
I can't stress to you how good these taste, you must go out and try it yourselves - one of my favourite wild mushrooms recipes, by quite some way.
|I'll admit, not a fantastic picture - I was too busy devouring them to be taking|
good photographs. Absolutely delicious.