Monday, 30 August 2010

Chicken of the Woods, Indian Style

As you may already know Chicken of the Woods is in fact a bracket mushroom. It is best eaten fresh and I use only the very tender parts on the edge of the fan shaped fungus.

This photo shows a piece of chicken of the woods with some plums. The fungus was growing on the plum tree.

As the name implies it has a similar texture and taste to chicken fillets, so many recipes for chicken can be adapted for use with this fungus. Obviously it depends how often and how much you manage to find, if you only have small amount just once a year then cook it simply to enjoy the delicate flavour of the mushroom, do cook thoroughly though. I find that it is best thinly slices, and they fried in butter or oil - it takes on a brighter yellow colour. You can eat it just fried but I think the texture and flavour improves with the addition of some liquid at this stage and allowed to simmer gently until it is nice and tender.

Yesterday I decided to use the chicken of the woods in an Indian style dish. I first sauteed the thinly sliced mushroom in a very small amount of oil until it had taken on some colour. I then set this to one side.

I took a small amount of fresh ginger (2cm), four cloves of garlic and two small dried chillies and pureed them in the blender with a small amount of water.

I then added a teaspoon of cumin seeds to the remaining hot oil, when they started to burst I added the ginger and garlic mixture and allowed this to cook gently for a few minutes before adding a tin of chopped tomatoes. I seasoned this mixture with some ground coriander, salt and turmeric. When the sauce had begun to thicken - just a couple of minutes I added the chicken of the woods to the sauce, covered the pan and let it simmer for about 20 mins.

I served the chicken of the woods with spiced potatoes. I used freshly dug Pink Fir Apple potatoes which I boiled in their skins until just cooked. When cool enough to handle I skinned them and cut them into chunks about 3cm square.

I then put a teaspoon of mustard seeds in a frying pan with a teaspoon of hot oil, when they started to burst I quickly added the potatoes with half a thinly sliced onion and 3 chopped garlic cloves. When these had taken on some colour I seasoned them with sea salt, ground cumin and a small amount of turmeric.
I then added about 100gms of freshly picked spinach which I had cut into 3cm ribbons, stirred and allowed to just wilt before serving.

As an accompaniment I cubed a cucumber, salted it and allowed it to drain before seasoning it with some ground coriander.

It was really delicious and of course you can use a piece of chicken fillet if you can't find your own chicken of the woods. Enjoy!