Grilled Maitake Mushrooms

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Grilled Maitake Mushrooms with Smoked Sea Salt

You either love mushrooms, or you don’t. I do, and I’ve just decided that maitake mushrooms are my favorite. Grilled Maitake Mushrooms to be precise. Weirdly, until recently I’d never grilled a mushroom before. That’s probably because I’ve been to one too many vegetarian barbecues and listened to everyone half-heartedly exclaim how the grilled portobello mushrooms were every bit as good as “real” meat. Well, I have news for you – they’re not. In fact, grilled portobello mushrooms aren’t even as good as “real” mushrooms. In my opinion, grilled portobellos have given grilled mushrooms a bad name. Unfortunately, I’ve never introduced my grill to a “real” mushroom before.

Then, while walking the Hollywood Farmers Market with my good friend and fellow blogger Jackie, The Beeroness, our discussion turned to mushrooms and her favorite “mushroom guy” occupying the last stall before Sunset Blvd. I soon found myself with a bagful of maitake mushrooms and a vague idea of grilling them. Grilled Maitake Mushrooms.

If you could peek inside my bag you’d see that the maitake mushroom (a.k.a. hen of the woods) is a fanciful-looking thing. Frilly and bulbous, like a cross between brain coral and a ruffled shirt. They grow on the forest floor in large, ragged clumps at the base of oak trees. They look nothing like the mushrooms we’re used to seeing in the grocery store. If a hedgehog went to Phyllis Diller’s hairstylist it might leave the salon looking like a maitake mushroom. In other words, maitake mushrooms look intimidating but they’re not nearly as delicate (or as exotic) as they seem. Which makes them terrific for grilling.

Grilled Maitake Mushrooms

You’ll often see maitake mushrooms chopped and sauteed in Asian dishes. They’re delicious, but the ingredient can get a bit lost in the muddle of a stirfry. Besides, I’m a purist when it comes to beautiful ingredients. So I suggest you keep things simple and serve Grilled Maitake Mushrooms in big clusters – the way they grow in the woods. They make an impressive presentation and they won’t fall through the grates either.

To grill them lay them out on a tray and drizzle generously with oil. By generously I mean way more than you think you’d need; they absorb oil like a sponge. The fat of the oil certainly enhances the flavor, but it also helps the mushrooms stand up to the high heat of the grill. Once the Grilled Maitake Mushrooms are nicely charred simply season them to taste. That’s all.

Grilled Maitake Mushrooms may be my favorite grilled mushroom, but I admit they can be hard to come by in pristine condition. In that case, I encourage you to experiment. You can use this same simple method to grill shiitake, porcini, oyster, or even portobellos (if you must). GREG

Grilled Maitake Mushrooms with Smoked Sea Salt Grilled Maitake Mushrooms

Grilled Maitake Mushrooms with Smoked Sea Salt

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4-6Source Inspired by Greg DentonPublished
Grilled Maitake Mushrooms with Smoked Sea Salt

Ingredients

  • 2 pound maitake mushrooms (separated into 8-10 similarly sized chunks, make sure each piece has some stem attached so they stay in 1 piece)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 4 green onions (thinly sliced)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon smoked sea salt (such as Maldon)

Directions

Place the mushrooms on a rimmed baking sheet taking care to keep the mushrooms intact. Drizzle ½ cup oil over the mushrooms gently turning them as you slowly pour the oil to get them all very well coated; season with salt and pepper. Let the mushrooms sit at least 10 minutes to absorb as much of the oil as possible. You may need to gently turn them a few times to get all the crags, crevices, and ridges in contact with some oil.

Meanwhile, prepare a charcoal or gas grill to high heat, or set a grill pan over high heat.

Once the grill or grill pan is hot, oil the grates well and lie the mushrooms onto the hottest part of the grill or grill pan. Cook until charred, 3 to 4 minutes; flip and grill on the other side until nicely colored and cooked all the way through at the thickest part of the stem. You may need to gently turn the mushrooms a couple of more times to ensure all the surfaces char evenly. Do not crowd the grill, work in batches if necessary.

Transfer the charred mushrooms to a serving platter. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, green onion slices, chopped rosemary, and smoked sea salt.