Lobster Mushrooms are total monsters. They look and smell like seafood and they're crunchy like a summer turnip. Plus, they are actually two types of fungi: the host mushroom, Russula Brevipes (pictured below, on the left), and its parasitic counterpart, an ascomycetes fungi called Hypomyces Lactifluorum.
Species: H. Lactifluorum
varieties: depend on the host mushroom. This parasite prefers to attack brittlegilled mushrooms like lactarius/lactifluus and russula.
A point of contention regarding this mushroom's edibility depends on the host fungus - in some cases, the parasite may attack an inedible lactarius. I have never heard of a poisoning by this mushroom but some people are adversely affected by it (as some people are adversely affected by beans, the magical fruit, or alliums). I've often wondered if people who had a strong gastrointestinal reaction may have eaten a lobster that had taken residence on an inedible host?
That said, I eat the fuck out of lobster mushrooms and they are highly regarded as delicious and edible unless you think they're too alien. That, I can understand.
Anyway, it's a pretty mushroom and here's a recipe to enjoy this fall or maybe next summer.
Lobster Mushroom Chowder
2 large, fresh Lobster Mushrooms
1 small white onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2tbsp fat (I like butter)
2 sticks celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Glug of booze for deglazing
2tbsp flour (use corn for gluten free people)
4 cups mushroom or seafood broth*
1 cup cream (I like cow dairy but cashew works nice, too)
1 cup frozen veggie niblets**
Fresh Lemon Zest
Salt and White Pepper to taste
*I always make lobster mushroom broth because I have a pantry full of dried mushrooms and other witchy things
**(I use frozen fava beans, peas and corn harvested from my summer garden)
1) In a soup pot over medium heat, fry the onions, thyme, and bay in the fat until translucent but not brown. Season with salt and pepper (be generous).
2) In a separate pot, heat your stock to steaming but not boiling and maintain its heat until ready to use.
3) Chop the lobster mushrooms into reasonable pieces (I pretend its actually lobster so I make them kind of large chunks). Add the mushrooms, celery, and carrot to the pot.
4) Cook down the liquid that's released from the mushrooms without browning this delicious muck. Once it starts to stick to the pot, deglaze with booze (I like using brandy or vermouth) or lemon if you don't like booze.
5) Add your flour, now. If your stuff looks really dry, like powdery from the flour, add more fat. Cook this mixture (the 'roux') until its bubbly.
6) Add the broth to this mixture and cook until everything is cooked to the texture you like and the broth thickens up. At this point I like to blend half of the soup so the flavour of the mushrooms is deeply distributed and lends some body to the soup. You don't have to blend any of it, or you could blend all of it. This all depends on your preferred texture.
7) After blending (if you blended), toss in the veggie niblets and bring them to temperature. Taste and season accordingly.
8) Finish the soup with some cream and fresh lemon zest. You could add some green stuff if you like the 90's bolognese spaghetti - style of garnishing shit.
You could turn this into pot pie by putting it in an oven-proof dish and topping it with pie crust. Or you could bake it with dumplings on top, that would be good, too. Or you could add a fuck-ton of cheese and make it into a fondue? ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES