This recipe produces fairy-tale worthy mushrooms. Delicate, long, elegant stems with teeny-tiny caps -- believe it or not -- make one hell of a pickle.
Mild-flavored enoki and beech mushrooms are crispy by nature. When they are pickled with lots of coarsely cracked black pepper and a stalk of lemon grass, they become slippery-crisp, with a nubby bite from the peppercorns.
I am addicted to these served a top a Triscuit smeared with cream cheese. But they are equally good on any Asian noodle dish, tucked in a taco or slipped in a burger -- anywhere you are craving a bit of pickle.
Cook to Cook: Enoki and beech mushrooms are sold in spongy clumps. To prep, cut them from the clump and give them a quick rinse. While these delicate mushrooms are beautiful, you can use any variety of mushrooms in this recipe, even giant portobellos. Simply cut them into bite-size pieces before you pickle them.
Mushrooms can be kept refrigerated in their brine up to one month.
1. Gently toss the mushrooms in a large bowl until evenly mixed.
2. With a mortar and pestle or in small, sturdy bowl, roughly crush the peppercorns and coriander seed. (Alternately, crush them on a cutting board with the side of a large knife.)
3. Combine the crushed peppercorns, coriander seed, lemon grass, vinegar, water, sugar, salt and bay leaf in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
4. Pack the mushrooms in a sterilized, medium jar with a lid (large enough to hold all the mushrooms, or divided into two smaller jars). Carefully pour the hot brine over the mushrooms and allow to cool.
5. When cooled, tightly cover the jar and store in the refrigerator. The mushrooms will be ready to eat after 24 hours.
Serve at room temperature or warm slightly and serve on crispy toast, crackers or fresh bread.
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Sally Swift is the managing producer and co-creator of The Splendid Table. Before developing the show, she worked in film, video and television, including stints at Twin Cities Public Television, Paisley Park, and Comic Relief with Billy Crystal. She also survived a stint as segment producer on The Jenny Jones Show.