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Alii mushrooms are best used in stews and braised dishes

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One of the most popular mushrooms in markets is the alii mushroom, Pleurotus eryngii, also known as the king oyster. The small tan cap of this mushroom rests on a heavy, fleshy white stem that is endearing to chefs and home cooks.

Alii mushrooms in Hawaii come from Hamakua Mushrooms on the Big Island, at a mushroom growing facility in Laupahoehoe. The alii mushroom is just one of several varieties grown there in temperature- and humidity-controlled rooms filled with rows of plastic bottles containing a sterile chipped-wood growing medium. Alii mushrooms grow in clumps and are hand-cut for packaging and shipping.

When you buy alii mushrooms, they should be firm, thick and dry without blemishes. They will keep longer than other oyster varieties, but for best texture and flavor, use them quickly.

Alii mushrooms stand up to all kinds of cooking methods. Use them in stews and braised dishes; they become tender but remain solid. Roast them to crisp their exterior while they remain juicy inside. Saute in a little olive oil and a squeeze of lemon to bring out its sweet, mild flavor and meaty texture. Coat lengthwise slices of the alii mushroom in flour, dip in beaten egg and pan-fry for a delicious treat. These mushrooms hold their shape well with little shrinkage, remain firm and juicy and taste wonderful.


Hawaii food writer Joan Namkoong offers a weekly tidbit on seasonal products, many of them locally grown. Look for "Fresh Tips" every Wednesday.

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