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Friday, May 09, 2008

chicken of the woods - feeling chicken?

I was walking home the other day when I saw a huge orangey-yellow fungus growing in a the nook of a tree in our road (I think its a type of birch but I am not great on tree species. that is my best guess from my new tree book).

So I bethought myself to investigating this large orange putrescence.

The mushroom books tell me it is Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus)

This extraordinary fungus is apparently - very occasionally - toxic - with hallucinations and upset stomach.

Hallucinations etc

So I have approached this particular culinary adventure with some trepidation and tested a small sample first before eating it for a meal.

Even though the books say it can't be mistaken for anything else, I still am a bit nervous about having got it right.

Nice for lunch

No suffering followed the initial test so I have just eaten up the lot for lunch. I fried in in small pieces with olive pesto, mackerel, a squeeze of lemon and some balsamic vinegar.

As you can see on the right, I had with it some aubergine, cold greens, radish and yoghurt. Actually the mustard and the yoghurt both help to make the meatiness of the fungus stand out more, and compensate for its lack of flavour.

It tastes quite mild, although it smelt heavenly of that lovely fresh, cool mushroom smell. The texture is the most notable thing when eating it, its rather floury or rubbery, a bit like eating synthetic sponge I suppose. Not very appealing but definitely it has a kind of 'meatiness' which I suppose gives rise to the Chicken analogy.

I read about herbs a suggestion to 'sit and listen' to a herb and feel what it is like to be that herb and then ask the herb permission to eat it and then listen for the answer. I tried this in a minor sort of way when I was feeling nervous about the mushroom and I seemed to feel I had a postive answer. I sort of felt then that it was absolutely safe to eat and rather good. I would like to develop this intuition further.

Apparently if you cut away only a part of it you can come back and harvest again next year this spring crop mushroom. We cut off about a fifth of what you see in the picture at the top. I don't think anyone else in Kew is after it.

Another Link - Roger's Mushrooms, nice and scientific for those who like that sort of thing.

Very detailed info with an omelette recipe here


  1. This looks great. I've been hunting for chicken of the woods for ages but had no luck thus far. Congrats on the blog as well, from a fellow forager and culinary adventurer.

  2. This looks great!