I knew a couple people had spoken about these things called aborted entolomas when I started picking mushrooms, but it took me about a year to be confident in recognizing them. Information about their edibility is out there, but there is not tons of it. Guides from the Pacific Northwest did not discuss it, but eventually I began to put together a little picture about them from hunting on my own. I discovered a mushroom that is very mild, but when caramelized and browned takes on a great, delicate flavor that store bought mushrooms could never even dream of.
I have confused a number of people when comparing this mushroom to shrimp. Just to clarify, the flavor of the aborted entoloma is similar to mushrooms. The texture, is shrimpy, or something like you might expect in a plate of shellfish. To amplify this texture, I like to serve them alongside fish, similar to the idea of pairing lobster mushrooms with venison I mentioned a little while ago.
This little recipe is a great example of how you can be playful with the texture of things. It is also a glimpse of the many, ways that entolomas could be served. These are really versatile mushrooms. When you think of cooking them, remember they will not take over the flavor of a dish like morels or matsutake, they would much prefer to be doing something in the background.
When I made this, I was using up the last of my heirloom tomatoes of the season, I had some green zebra tomatoes and a small golden roma. I knew I wanted to make something with fish and entolomas, and I remembered one of the old shellfish combinations that we used to serve at the ill-fated Il Vesco Vino restaurant in St. Paul. We would make a spicy fra-diavolo (“devil” sauce) served with pasta, it was really simple, and very popular. This is a tweaked version that is much lighter than the original that we made back at the restaurant. Unlike the other ragu, this one is not too spicy, but it definitely could be if you wanted it so. I wanted to design a simple fish ragu that was more wine based, with soft flavors.
Thinking of softer flavors and colors was part of the reason why I didn’t put any red tomato in this. Be careful when combining colors of heirloom tomatoes. Just as we all learned in elementary art class, color combinations can create different colors. Green and red tomatoes cooked together will make a sauce the color of cat puke, just a fair warning.
This ragu also contains more types of shellfish than the one that inspired me. Variety is the spice of life, and currently I am not allowed to cook with any salt water fish where I work. Playing with shellfish at home is a way I can cheat just a little; a reminder to myself of what else lives in the water. In the original version, we used a combination of scallops and shrimp.
To sum things up, this is simply a fun and playful recipe for serving aborted entoloma mushrooms. A ragu like this would be wonderful tossed with a little pasta, spooned over some soft polenta, or for a very showy dish, drizzle this over a steak for an elegant suft-n-turf, or spoon it over a larger piece of fish for a “quintuple fish fantasy”.The simplest way to serve this is as a light appetizer-stew, poured over some grilled toast and maybe doused with some olive oil, yum.
Shellfish Ragu, With Aborted Entolomas, Heirloom Tomatoes and Mint
Serves 1, as a light entree, scale as needed
*If you wish to serve this with pasta, 1 oz of dried spaghetti could be sauced by this recipe for a light entree, to be accompanied by something else, such as a salad. Alternately, spoon it over 1/2 cup of cooked, soft polenta, or simply in a bowl accompanied by some grilled toast*
- 1/4 cup small, firm, Aborted entoloma mushrooms If you have 20 lbs of entolomas in your fridge, use more. If your entolomas are large, cut into 1inch chunks
- Shrimp, uncooked, about 3/person. I wanted all of the ingredients to be similar sizes, so I went with “16/20″/lb shrimp, great for using with pasta
- Small bay scallops, about 5-6/person
- Mussels or clams, or both, I was fine with 4 pieces for myself, if you use clams, look for small Manilas, they are my favorite. For mussels, look for large “meds” or Mediterranean mussels, they are a little more expensive, but the meat inside is huge, and juicy
- 1/4 cup heirloom tomatoes, blanched in salted water, peeled, seeds squeezed out, and cut into 1 inch hunks
- 1/8 cup dry white wine
- 1 tsp fresh sliced mint
- tsp of unsalted butter
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 1 Tbsp flavorless oil for sauteeing, like canola or grapeseed
- Just a splash of hot sauce, optional
- Begin by heating a small saute pan with a tbsp or so of oil and then adding the aborted entolomas when hot, cook for a minute or two until they are nice and caramelized, then season with a bit of salt.
- Next add the thinly sliced garlic and make sure the pan is lugubrious with oil, this will make sure the garlic toasts and doesn’t burn, cook for 30 seconds or so, until lightly golden. To halt the cooking of the garlic, next add the shrimp and cook for a moment, enough to color them lightly and allow bits of them to stick to the pan, which will deepen the flavor of the sauce.
- Next add the clams or mussels, and the tomatoes, splash of hot sauce, then the wine, season this with a pinch of salt and throw a lid on the pan to make the mussels or clams open. When the mussels and clams are opened, add the bay scallops and just heat through, then add a small amount of butter and the tsp of sliced mint, swirl the pan until the butter is incorporated fully and the sauce is thickened slightly, season to taste with salt, then serve.