It’s been a while since I’ve seen some good fruitings of hericiums in Minnesota-a couple years. It’s not that I don’t have anywhere to go and pick them, it’s just that as is the case with hen of the woods and chickens, sometimes they skip a year or two and you won’t see them at all.
Luckily I took some of my line cooks out to hunt a couple times this year and one of those hunts produced the biggest fruiting of hericiums I’d ever seen. Big pillows of soft, white coral on a rotting log, seeing their stark white against the background of putrid wood always makes me think about life, death, and our perception of it.
Aside from that, hericiums just look cool, other-worldy, and it doesn’t hurt that they taste great fried up in a little butter with nothing more than a pinch of salt. Their texture and aroma hints faintly at crabmeat, and that’s the idea for this great surf and turf combo here. Hericiums are cooked with garlic, herbs and wine, and left to marinate, then reheated in a little butter with some king crab meat, a splash of lemon, and tossed on top of a steak. Viola.
Seared Tenderloins with Hericium Mushrooms and King Crab
After doing plenty of taste testing at the Salt Cellar for our surf and turf, I found I really prefer king crab to most other types for this. My favorite comes from Bristol Bay in Alaska, and has a nice balance of sweet sea flavor, with a mild amount of salt. Not all king crabs are created equal though-some are way too salty for my taste, typically being the cheaper versions. As with most things, you get what you pay for.
For the recipe here, you can also de-glaze the pan you cooked the steaks in and make a simple pan sauce, there’s plenty of options.
Serves 2 as an entree
- Two 6 ounce beef tenderloin steaks
- 4 ounces king crab
- 1/4 cup marinated hericium mushrooms (see recipe below)
- Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
- High heat oil or lard, as needed for searing, about 1 tablespoon
- Squeeze of fresh lemon juice, to taste
- Fresh chopped Italian parsley, to taste
- 2 ounces unsalted, clarified butter
- Preheat and oven to 250. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan such as cast iron. Season the steaks with salt and pepper on all sides, then brown them in the pan. When the steaks are browned, remove them to a cookie sheet with a resting rack and place in the oven for 10 minutes, or until just warmed through.
- Meanwhile, melt the clarified butter in a pan and add the crab and mushrooms, heat them gently until just warmed through, making sure not to overcook the crab, which will toughen it. Season to taste with a little salt, pepper, and lemon juice, then finish with the parsley.
- To serve, place a steak in the middle of two preheated dinner plates. Using a slotted spoon, top each steak with an even amount of crab and hericiums, then garnish with a drizzle of the butter. Serve immediately with a green salad on the side.
Marinated Hericium Mushrooms
This recipe is for 5lbs of fresh mushrooms, a restaurant batch, scale as needed.
- 5 lbs small, young hericium mushrooms
- 5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
- 1/2 cup flavorless oil for sauteeing, such as grapeseed or canola
- 1/2 cup flavorful oil, such as extra virgin olive oil
- 1 full tablespoon of kosher salt
- 2 qts water or court bouillon
- 1/2 cup champagne vinegar, or white vinegar. (If you are making a recipe including a touch of sugar as for morels chickens, or chanterelles, you might use apple cider vinegar.)
- Large sprig of thyme
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- In a wide pan with high sides, or even a soup pot, gently heat the oil and the sliced garlic until the garlic begins to turn golden. Decrease the heat and stir the garlic, you want it evenly golden and crisp, but not burnt.
- Add the mushrooms, salt and herbs, and allow the mushrooms to give up their juice and stop the garlic from getting too brown.
- Once the mushrooms have wilted and given up their juice, add the water or court bouillon, then bring the mixture to a simmer.
- After the mixture comes to a simmer, turn the heat off and add the vinegar and flavored oil of your choice. Season the liquid to taste with salt until it tastes nice (you may not need to add any extra than the recipe calls for.)
- Finally, put the conserve into a container and refrigerate. If you will be keeping the conserve for more than a few weeks, make sure to put plastic wrap on top of the conserve to keep the mushrooms under the liquid, other wise bacteria from the air might harm them. Under the liquid though they will keep for a very, long time.