Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lobster, Morels, Radish, Fennel, Ramps

Undoubtedly, my favourite ingredient is mushrooms. Their earthy complexity, meatiness and diversity of flavour is unrivalled. A lot of people I know dislike the delicious fungi which I find puzzling because they are awesomely delicious. No ingredient is as versatile as the humble mushroom. It comes in hundreds of edible varieties, each with a different shape, texture and flavour. None that I've eaten have come close to the perfection that is a morel mushroom. These curious fungi grow in the late spring here in Toronto, until early summer. The season is short, so it's best to eat them up before they disappear until next year. I picked some up for 39 dollars a pound at St. Lawerence Market, along with some lobster.

The specimens I bought at the Market!
My favourite way to appreciate the special flavour of a morel is by sauteing it in butter - ALOT of butter. It's ridiculously easy. Heat a generous amount of butter until very hot, then add the morels and let them bubble in the warm butter for several minutes until they have been cooked throughout. Don't eat them raw or undercooked - they will mildly poison you (vomiting and stomach pains), but through cooking they are 100% edible. You will know when they are done, the butter will have glazed them, they will be tender and have wilted almost. The next step is to take a high quality salt like Maldon or Fleur de Sel and generously sprinkle them with it. Serve morels with practically anything, meat, fish, vegetables. I served them with fennel puree, made by cooking fennel in milk with salt, then pureeing and straining the results. The lobster was taken out from the shell and reheated in it's juice and butter (I didn't want to bring home a live lobster myself, then kill it). It was a good dish, the lobster was tender and juicy, the morels earthy and rich like a meat. The fennel puree was smooth and subtle. Pickled ramps provided acidity to balance out the morels and lobster. Radishes added some pungency.

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