I always think this meaty bracket fungus is the perfect beginner’s mushroom. Resembling a stack of bright yellow dinner plates on the side of a tree (usually oak), it’s highly visible, totally unmistakable and – better still – tastes great. This Indonesian inspired dish is an unusual, but delicious way of eating this substantial mushroom . . .
Although some writers compare the flavour to chicken, I think it refers to the texture – certainly it tastes nothing like the mass-produced flabby seven-week-old birds we buy in a supermarket. Unlike most mushrooms, it does not break down when cooked, so use it as a meat substitute – a superior tofu or Quorn if you like. To take this to extremes, try it kebab-ed and served with a spicy peanut sauce – a perfect veggie barbecue option.
For the kebabs
1 kg+ Young chicken-of-the-woods
12 Skewers (pre-soaked for 30 minutes if wooden)
For the sauce
1 tspn Cumin seeds
2 tspn Coriander seeds
1 tspn Peanut/sunflower oil
3 Spring onions (chopped roughly)
2 Cloves garlic
3cm Stem ginger (peeled and grated)
1 – 5 Chillies (depending on taste and strength)
3 tbspn Thai fish sauce (light soy will do)
2 tbspn Crunchy peanut butter
Handful coarsely chopped coriander leaves
Chop the mushroom into roughly equal 2cm cubes. Thread on a skewer. Meanwhile, lightly toast the cumin and coriander seeds in oil, before adding onions, garlic, ginger and chillies – fry for a minute before adding sauce and crunchy peanut butter. Keep stirring for a couple of minutes, adding water to make a smooth, thick paste. Taste and season if necessary. Keep warm while cooking the mushroom skewers – depending on size of chunks and grill/barbecue temperature, these should take 5 – 15 minutes. Just before serving, reheat the sauce and serve the skewers on a bed of rice, topped with the peanut sauce and garnished with a flourish of fresh coriander.