Cutting up my first beefsteak mushroom (Fistulina hepatica) was a mess. My cutting board looked like a murder scene, my hands were tacky and red, there was sticky trim scraped off of the knife in little piles around the board. In the end though, I did get a nice pile of dice from it to make the relish recipe I could see in my mind after I tasted it for the first time.
After I made a simple salad with them I enjoyed, I saw some other potential. The mushrooms were good raw, but less assertive than I thought they would be: they needed a little help, just a touch of acid. The sour flavor is really novel with them, and absolutely worth experimenting with, as it’s not often mushrooms in their natural state scream to become a condiment, or eaten raw.
Here’s a basic idea: gently enhance the sour flavor of the mushrooms with a marinade that’s low on the acid, let them sit for 24 hours, then put them on stuff. It works, and there was a bonus effect. I love bonus effects. The juice of the beefsteaks is red, but I didn’t know what would happen to the color of the juice as the acid of the lemon gently cooked it.
I guessed that high heat and searing would change the composition of the juice to no longer be red, or just evaporate juice out of the mushroom to the point where it was juice-less. Keeping it raw though, could be a good experiment. Salt draws out water, and keeping the mushrooms in a wet atmosphere meant that the juice that flowed out of the mushrooms stayed red, blood red, and I was happy.
The relish recipe is delicate. You could add herbs to it, but I would keep them mild ones: parsley, chives, tarragon, chervil, would all be good. What I have for you here is a relish that tries to be pure and honor the beefsteak, it’s nothing more than some lemon juice, a pinch of salt, some great olive oil, shallot, and mushrooms. Sometimes less is more, you know? It goes without saying that it would be a shame not drizzle the blood-red juice over things that you use it on. Refer to the picture of cornmeal crusted whitefish with the relish I have pictured as an example.
Beefsteak Mushroom Relish
- 1/2 cup beefsteak mushrooms diced 1/4 inch
- 1 tablespoon shallot diced 1/4 inch
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 5 cracks of the pepper mill
- Squeeze of fresh lemon juice to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- In a non-reactive bowl, like a stainless steel salad bowl, combine the salt and the shallot and let sit for 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms, oil, pepper and lemon juice and combine.
- Refrigerate until needed.
- The relish will keep under refrigeration for 5 days.