Oyster mushrooms are large, oyster-shell shaped edible fungi species. Their chewy, flavorful, fruiting bodies are widely popular in the Chinese, Japanese and Korean cuisine. It is native to the dense forests of North America, Northern Europe, and Siberian Asia.Botanically, they belong to the family: Pleurotaceae, and the genus: Pleurotus.
Scientific name: P. ostreatus. They are also known by names as abalone mushroom, pearl oyster mushroom, hiratake, Xiùzhēn gū (秀珍菇), etc.
Photo courtesy: Peter Stevens.
Apart from the common oyster, some of highly valued, edible Pleurotus species that grown for their delicate fruiting bodies are:
P. eryngii (king oyster mushroom)-is the largest species among Pleurotus family mushrooms and has rich flavor. Its club shaped, thick stalk is firmly attached to the cap.
P. pulmonarius is also known as phoenix or Indian oyster mushroom. It is smaller and paler than pearl oyster mushroom and prefers warm weather.
P. populinus is native to North America and fruits in summer months.
P. djamor (The pink oyster mushroom) grows in tropical warm regions.
P. australis (brown oyster mushroom) has large brown caps and commonly found in Australia and New Zealand forests.
P. cystidiosus (abalone mushroom or akuratake).
Oyster mushrooms can be easily identified by their grey-white, oyster-shell shaped cap which is attached to thick, firm stalk (stem). Their undersurface is featured by highly defined gills which run right from the edge of cap up to the middle of the stalk. Cap measures about 5-15 cm in diameter. The stem has 2-4 inches in length.
Oyster mushroom is unique in being the only edible saphrophytic fungus preys on certain nematodes and insects from which it gets nitrogen to flourish. In their natural habitat, pleurotus species grow on dead and decaying logs, living tree trunks of coniferous and beech trees.
Oyster mushroom cultivation under supervised farms has revolutionized its continuous supply to the ever increasing consumer demands. Any kind of sawdust and agriculture-waste that is rich in lignin and cellulose can become suitable substrate fro its cultivation. Fruit bodies appear about 25 days after spawn inoculation.
P. ostreatus is one of very low-caloried mushrooms. 100 gram of fresh fungus carries just 33 calories. Nonetheless, this flavorful fungi is loaded natural bioactive compounds, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that promote health.
Oyster mushroom contains a HMG-CoA reductase enzyme inhibitor substance called statin (lovastatin or Mevinolin-2.8% dry weight).
They compose β-glucan which has anti-viral and anti-allergic properties.
Certain protein polysaccharides in the oyster mushroom has been found to have anti-hyperglycemic, anti-soft tissue tumor, immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, antihypertensive effects in the experimental animal studies.
In the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), oyster fungus is known to dispel cold wind, relax tendons and bones and strengthen yang. It is indicated to treat impotence, weakness of joints and limbs, and backache problems.
Oyster mushrooms carries reatively high amounts of good quality protien than other cultivated mushrooms.
Fresh mushroom is an excellent source of folic acid (38 μg 9.5% per 100 g).
Further, they contain ample concentrations of other B-complex group of vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, etc.
Minerals such as copper, iron, phosphorus present in moderate levels in this mushroom.
Oyster mushrooms are modest sources of vitamin-D (ergo-calciferol) at 29 μg per 100 g (7% of DA). Vitamin-D plays a vital role in the calcium and phosphate metabolism.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.41 g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber||2.3 g||6%|
|Pantothenic acid||1.294 mg||26%|
|Pyridoxine (B-6)||0.110 mg||8%|
|Vitamin-D||29 IU mg||7%|
Fresh and dried oyster mushrooms can be readily available in the US supermarkets. Choose non slimy and evenly colored oyster mushrooms, with a smooth cap and no black spots. Pleurotus mushrooms are highly perishable and absorb the flavor of surrounding foods. Consume them immediately.
They also sold dried, and in brine in these stores.
For storage, place them in a paper bag or in a dish covered with cloth for a short period (2-3 days). Dried oyster in sealed packs and vacuum packs can stay well for many months.
Fresh oyster mushrooms do not require washing. Just clean any surface dirt or sand particle using a soft brush. You can tear the ears (caps) by hand since they cook evenly in the dishes because the uniform thickness of caps.
Oyster mushrooms impart mild mushroomy flavor, and distinct fleshy texture in the dishes. Thus, they can be an ideal substitute in the dishes that call for pork or poultry. Do not mask their flavor by pairing them with strongly flavored foods or cooking them in large amount of butter or oil. They can be sautéed or boiled 3-5 min, quick braised or baked for 7-10 min. Their stems require a longer cooking time and benefit from being chopped evenly.
|Oyster mushroom and goat cheese ravioli Pan Pacific|
Here are some serving tips:
In the mainland China, oyster mushrooms usully stir fried with complementing vegetables as a side dish.
They are also delicious braised, sauteed, marinated or grilled.
They can be simply enjoyed sauteed in garlic oil or butter.
They are added to soups and sauces, and work well with rice, pasta dishes, eggs, tofu, poultry and seafood.
Fine sliced oyster mushroom can also be added in pizza, pasta, and potpie preparations.
Eating cooked oyster mushrooms rarely causes any hypersensitivity reactions. Sniffing raw, large, spore bearing oyster caps, and in persons who work indoors engaged in the mushroom cultivation may develop serious allergic alveolitis and mushroom workers lung disease. Workers in the farms are advised to wear masks to limit spore inhalation. (Medical disclaimer).
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