If pressed, many people, when presented with an array of wild mushrooms to eat and sample, would probably say that they all taste, “like mushrooms”. It is the same with many of the most coveted foods in the world. Expensive and prized Wine, cheese, beer, cured meat, fish and caviar all may taste a bit similar if you are unused to sampling them. Once you start to develop a palette for subtle flavors though, your senses will open up new worlds of opportunity for you in the way that you enjoy food.
The Dryad Saddle and it’s cucumber like flavor is a great example of the different flavor nuances of mushrooms. Of course you can simply fry up the tender young ones, throw some salt on them, and eat them as you would any mushroom. To bring out their cucumber flavor takes a bit of culinary technique and know how.
Here I wanted to showcase the funky flavor of the dryad saddle by making a broth from it. Often with dryad saddle’s you may come across large specimens that are too tough to eat, they make a great broth though, so I thought I would share a recipe.
Dryad Saddle Broth with Spring Mushrooms and Vegetables
Serves 4 as a first course
- 1 recipe dryad saddle broth (follows)
- Vegetable garnishes: I used sliced ramps, cucumber, blanched fiddlheads, peeled seeded tomatoes, pluteus mushrooms, fresh morels, asparagus, chives, dill, and julienned wood ear mushrooms
- Kosher salt
- Champagne vinegar to taste
- Flavorful oil, like extra virgin olive, or sunflower
Dryad Saddle Broth
Makes 1 quart
- 2 cups chopped, fresh dryad saddle mushrooms (Making a broth is a great way to use up scrap and trim, or older dryad saddles that are too tough to be eaten)
- 8 cups of water
- 1/4 cup each: carrot, celery, and onion, chopped
- Heat a tbsp of cooking oil such as grapeseed or canola in a small sauce pan big enough to hold the water. Cook the chopped carrot, onion and celery on medium heat for 10 minutes, keep an eye on the vegetables so they don’t brown, you want a nice, light broth.
- Add the water and dryad saddles, bring the mixture almost to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook for 2 hours, then strain the liquid through cheesecloth and reserve.
- To prepare your garnishes, pre cook them if they need it by blanching them in lightly salted water. Fiddleheads and wild mushrooms will need to be blanched like this, just pouring boiling liquid over the ingredients is not enough to cook them.
- Heat the dryad saddle broth until boiling. Season the broth with a tsp of champagne vinegar or more to taste if you like more zip. Arrange the vegetable garnishes in the bowl and then pour in the broth. Drizzle each bowl with some oil and garnish with fresh herbs, then serve immediately.