Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Blazei Mushrooms: A Little Almond in Every Bite

I paid a visit to Specialty Produce last week to get some pasilla chiles, but while I was there I asked, as always, "what do you have that's new?"

Glad I asked because Richard Harrington grinned and brought over a bag of dried mushrooms that they had just gotten in. Blazei mushrooms grown locally in Escondido by Mountain Meadow Mushrooms. These fungi have quite the unique flavor profile: almonds.

Now sometimes you hear these kinds of descriptives: a note of peach, overtones of citrus. And, you have to strain to get them. Sometimes you just don't. In the case of the blazei mushrooms, there's no stretching. I opened the bag, took a breath, and thought I was breathing in marzipan.

Then, the fresh mushrooms were brought out. The almond flavor is less pronounced, of course, but still there, enveloped in a beautiful meaty texture.

I took some home and used them that night -- pretty much mandatory because they have a very short shelf life. Since I wanted to see if the almond flavor was still evident after being cooked, I decided to keep it simple. I looked up flavor profiles in one of my favorite resources, The Flavor Bible, and figured I'd stick with the ingredients that complement almonds. So, I sliced and sauteed the mushrooms with shallots in butter and a little olive oil, toasted a handful of pine nuts, and cut up some goat cheese. All this was tossed with pappardelle pasta from Trader Joe's.

The dish was a fascinating and delicious combination of flavors. Yes, that almond essence came through, but gently. The texture of the mushroom was almost like a plump fresh shitake, nicely offset by the crunchiness of the pine nuts.

As for the dried blazei mushrooms, they're going to be paired this week with wheat berries in a side dish.

Print Page


  1. Far West Fungi in the Ferry Building used to sell these as "almond mushrooms." Really good, especially with eggs.

  2. Great information on those mushrooms. I was not familiar with that variety, we don't have a big selection here. And I plan on getting the Flavor Bible book. It sounds like a good reference to have on hand. Thanks Caron. Always a pleasure to read your posts.

  3. Hi Terri:
    The Flavor Bible is a very handy resource. I go to it often to get ideas for flavor pairings.

  4. Both fresh and dried are available at Specialty Produce. 1929 hancock street #150, San Diego 92110. Open to the public 8a - 4p.

  5. Need a quick pick me up?, steep dried blazei in hot water for a quick tea.

  6. 'shroom Shack carries Blazei sometimes, dried and fresh.