King oyster mushrooms have started popping up in supermarkets. What are they and how do they taste?
The king oyster mushroom (not the same species as the regular oyster mushroom) is native to the Mediterranean region, Asia, and North Africa but is now cultivated worldwide. Its white stem can measure up to 8 inches long and 2 inches wide, and it’s topped by a stout brown cap. We sautéed the sliced stems and quartered caps of this bulky fungus in oil until tender and compared them with regular white mushrooms prepared the same way. The king mushrooms stood out because of their dense, chewy, almost resilient texture, which several tasters likened to that of squid or scallops. The king mushrooms’ flavor, while very savory, had little of the characteristic earthiness that even mild white mushrooms boast. Still, we wouldn’t hesitate to use these hearty mushrooms in a recipe, especially if the goal is to add meaty texture.