Dried, re-hydrated lobsters might not be that interesting, (toast them a little to bring out flavor) but the powder is a showstopper, and I do all kinds of things with it. These mushroom breadcrumbs are one of the more creative things I've developed over the years, and they're one of my favorite dried lobster mushroom recipes.
Right before the snow started to melt a few years ago, I tried, fruitlessly, to start burning through the shroom hoard of dried lobster mushrooms, along with various bags of boletes.
I wanted to make something for the restaurant menu, but recipes involving ground lobster mushrooms are expensive. My couple bags and jars of dried lobster mushrooms, while a serious stash for home cooking, would be completely consumed by a restaurant in days, but I had enough to develop a recipe using my stash.
Secondly, as a manager in charge of purchasing, it was important to keep waste in mind, so I needed to lessen the probability that my line cooks could over-serve, or at least hedge my bet a little.
Flavorful side note, I know one line cook, who, after his shift drink, neglected to put away his fish box full of black truffles stashed above the pass for New Years service, which at a couple pounds, was roughly a line cook's weekly salary at the time. And people wonder why chefs have tempers. Back to the lobsters, I knew:
- Lobster mushrooms, like lobster, love paprika, and butter.
- Ground to a powder, or coarse ground in a grain mill, I could spread the cost/labor out of my harvesting, or purchasing dried mushrooms.
Stretching Dried Lobster Mushrooms with Breadcrumbs
Since I had a cod on the menu that was being baked the classic French way with a green herbed breadcrumb topping, I thought I might try making a seasoned breadcrumb mix with a high proportion of lobster mushrooms mixed in.
The lobster mushrooms would coat and flavor the breadcrumbs, and some hot clarified butter mixed in would help activate the aromas, hydrate the tiny pieces of lobster mushroom with fat, and make the flavors come together. Adding fat to them would also make it a turn-key topping for anything baked, especially fish.
As you've might be guessing, the lobster mushroom breadcrumbs don't suck. If you try your hand at them, I'm sure you'll be able to figure out plenty to put them on, but here's a couple ideas for them:
- Like I mentioned, I think my favorite is putting a generous amount of the mushroom crumbs on top of flaky white fish (or other protein, etc) and baking on high, say 400F, try that first.
- Sprinkled on top of pasta, especially something light like spaghetti with clams or mussels
- Try sprinkling some on fried eggs, with the addition of some crushed chili or a teeny pinch of cayenne, alternaltely, bake with crumbs on top, or put the crumbs in a pan and crack the eggs into them and cook (yes, it works).
- Orrechiette a la Barese is a classic Italian pasta with an oil based breadcrumb sauce, see a version of it here, you could add the lobster mushroom crumbs, removing the anchovy since the flavor will take over.
- Adding on to the pasta, you could toss simple dried pasta with this, but make sure to drain the pasta well, and heat in a pan with the breadcrumbs for a minute or two to get rid of any excess moisture.
- Spread on top of a gratin, or really anything baked, macaroni and cheese with lobster mushroom crust? Yes please.
- Another dish I ran was a simple, appetizer of gnocchi is white sauce made from goat brie, topped with a pile of the crumbs instead of cheese.
Don't get too creative
Less is more here. This is a simple recipe all about clean flavors, and trying to showcase the lobster mushrooms. A little tweaking for personal taste is fine, but don't monkey with the proportions too much, and especially, resist the urge to add garlic powder.
There's a little dried wild onion powder in this one I was making at home, but it's an ⅛tsp in 3 cups of other matter by volume--it is, as Richard Olney would say, a suggestion of onion, just a hint. You can probably get away with a little more, but start small and taste as you go.
Lobster Mushroom Breadcrumbs
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 cup ground lobster mushrooms made from very clean, dried mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon finely ground dried wild onions ramps, or onion powder
- 1 Tablespoon Fresh chopped thyme to taste, about 1 tablespoon
- Pinch of kosher salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup butter
- Warm the butter just to melt, then keep warm. Combine the remaining ingredients, then drizzle in the butter and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a container with a tight fitting lid.
- The mushrooms aren't hydrated (as long as you use clarified butter or lard) so you don't have to worry about them going bad, per-se, but the flavor will be best fresh, within a couple days of making, so make it in small batches for whatever you'll need.
- For the best flavor retention, refrigerate them. When the crumbs chill, they'll firm up from the butter, simply let them come to room temperature and stir, or gently warm to break them up a bit.
- To use the breadcrumbs, lightly oil and season a piece of white fish like cod, spoon breadcrumbs on top and bake until the cod is cooked through and serve.
Wow....GENIUS! What a great way to sneak in mushrooms. Will definitely try this with mac & cheese ???? If I can't find lobster mushrooms, what's a good substitute I can find at the grocery store?
You want a good, flavorful shroom here. As far as widely available ones, Porcini would be fine, too, but lobsters are available online.
Dammit! (and I mean that in a good way) I've always been underwhelmed by lobsters but you have given me hope, thank you. And btw, I'm enjoying Honey from a Weed.
When they're dried, and toasted, they're excellent. Interesting weird fact is that these seem to be causing a good number of GI poisonings, after cooking they need to have a strict shelf life, and older mushrooms (some people can't seem to tell what's past prime) have made at least 2 people I know sick straight out of the pan.
Amy H. Abrams
Is it also true that they are a parasitic mushroom and grow where other mushrooms have grown earlier in the season? I read somewhere that they can absorb toxins if they grow on the site of a poisonous mushroom? I’ve been meaning to research this more to see if there is a bonafide scientific study to back that up? Have you ever heard this before?
They are a parasitic mushroom that infect the subterranean mycelium, so when the mushroom fruits, it is not the host, but the Hypomyces. IMO speculating that they contain toxins from the host is crazymaking, and ignorant information parroting. Basically, it is either a lobster mushroom, or it isn't. There are maybe one of two half-looking infected mushrooms I see posted each year but they're so rare it's not even really worth mentioning. I have seen no studies backing up any of those claims.
Wow; I always assumed the parasitic infection happened after the host fruited, but I verified your assertion that the infection occurs to the host mycelium with someone who would know (editor of Fungi Magazine). The fear that H. lactifluorum would infect a deadly Amanita species seems unfounded; the parasite appears to be specific to a few Russulas and Lactarius species. Some of these species are quite acrid on their own, and cited as non-edible and even emetic in the field guides, but the Hypomyces transforms them into something delicious. There are no known cases of amatoxin poisoning resulting from ingestion of Lobster Mushrooms, only fear based on (admittedly reasonable) speculation.
The timing of this post coincides with my finding of 9, count 'em, 9 lobster mushrooms on my walk in the woods today. But I don't have any dry ones, so this will have to wait for me to find more. The last time I found lobster mushrooms was several years back. I perused your site for inspiration, but I think I'm going to do what I did the first time I found these - lobster mushroom corn chowder, New England, not Manhattan. I did pick up your excellent tip on using the dirt-laced trimmings to flavor butter, which is sitting across the kitchen from me now, waiting for me to get on with it. I used a coffee filter to strain the butter so there would not be any grit, but I had to put that in a strainer and press with a spoon to get everything I could out of it.
Chowder is a great way to use them. I love how they tint dairy light yellow.
I’ve been wondering about some recipes I’ve seen with dried mushrooms. Would it be an issue if the mushrooms weren’t cooked after being added to a recipe? Like this one sprinkled on fried eggs or over spaghetti. Thanks.
Generally speaking, protein denaturization from dehydration should make a lot of wild mushroom edible after drying. That being said, they taste better cooked whether raw or dried, so it’s a bit of a moot point. If you wanted to use this recipe as a garnish for fried eggs or pasta in lieu of cheese, like I suggest, you’d want to toast the crumb mixture first, in a pan or oven. As it seems like that isn’t clear I’m going to make a note of it. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.
Thank you so much for replying! I have tried a lot of your recipes and tips and they are amazing thanks so much for your expertise.
I love your blog! Thanks so much great info and recipes! I have dried some lobsters and pheasant backs intending to use them as powders and will probably also dry some puffballs if I don't eat them all fresh! Here's my question. When you dry mushrooms, do you save them sliced and powder them as needed? I am wondering if the powder would collect moisture and get clumpy or otherwise icky. I live in VT where the winters are cold and dry, but the spring and summer can be damp and dance wildly between cool and hot.
I dry the mushrooms and powder as needed. Don't worry about powder getting funky or deteriorating as long as the mushrooms are well dried.
Just made a half batch of this recipe as I found a small bag of remaining dried lobsters. Didn't have ramp powder (though I do have fresh leaves), so I used garlic powder instead. As soon as the warm butter hit, I could notice the familiar aroma from the mushroom. Looking forward to use this on lobster mac & cheese tomorrow... hopefully it will complement.
Just found a bunch of lobsters...(I'm stoked!) I'd like to fry up some bluegills and coat them in lobster breadcrumbs. Do you think that will work? I wouldn't want the breadcrumbs to flake off or burn in the oil, so any suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank you!
Hey Katie. It will work, I'd egg wash and bake them. Or, just season up the lobster mushroom powder and use that as is.