Two worlds collide in this recipe: the homesteading life of my Finger Lakes friends and the Food Network Star glitz and glamour.
For nearly a year Steve Gabriel and I have been trying to coordinate a shitake mushroom playdate. It goes something like this: I check out his insanely awesome mushroom-growing maze in the forest next to his off-the-grid yurt. We harvest some fungi and I go off to invent recipes in Frisch kitchen. Steve is a permaculture expert, which is a way of growing food in a natural habitat that is healthy and self-sufficient. It includes unexpected but time-honored practices like forest gardens, where in 10 square feet you might have shitake mushroom logs that fruit in the summer, made from maple trees tapped for sap in the winter, and ducks to keep the slugs from invading the mushrooms while providing eggs and meat year-round. In the sun-flooded fields beyond the tree canopy, Steve and his soon-to-be wife Liz have a fruit and vegetable garden to bolster their diet. It’s a lot of work on their slice of paradise, but my oh my does it look (and TASTE) gratifying.
On the other side of the dice, it’s equally hard work busting out poolside party bites for a throng of people in Vegas ready to dial-of-doom you to stardom or home. But Chris Kyler, Cutthroat Kitchen Champion and cast mate on Food Network Star Season 10, is no stranger to catering for crowds. One of his masterpiece garnishes is a mushroom chip. A mushroom chip! It’s a delightful and wholly unique bite, and has a texture made for substituting bacon if you’re a veghead. It’s a simple thing really: slice mushrooms thinly, fry in olive oil and dust with salt. I had the pleasure of cooking next to Chris for the pool party challenge in Episode 7, and I could barely control my hand from wandering into his bowl of chips. This recipe is a toast to a new friend and inspiration!
When Steve sent me a message to say the mushrooms were fruiting like wildflowers, mushroom chips consumed my mind. As usual, I got hooked on finding a Frisch Twist and for whatever reason coconut oiled my creative pipes. My pal Andy (former chef, and Frisch Kitchen photographer and videographer) and I brainstormed how we might make a Thai chip, with a trilogy of lime, chili and sugar. The resulting recipe was a collaboration of minds, as most recipes tend to be. These Thai Mushroom Chips are totally surprising and insanely addictive. You can prepare them in a pinch and put them out to whet your party guests’ appetite. Stash some away for yourself for garnishing salads, entrees and cramming into any sandwich.
A few enlightening mushroom facts:
- Over 90% of the mushrooms we consume in this country are grown indoors and originate from the same variety: Portabella. Crimini Mushrooms are just baby Portabellas!
- Many people are sensitive to the spores and allergens in raw mushrooms, so it’s best to cook mushrooms for 1-2 minutes. Plus, this is how you can best access the nutritional properties in mushrooms.
- Shitake mushrooms - 1 pound
- Coconut oil - 2 cups
- Limes - 3
- Organic cane sugar - 2 tablespoons
- Cayenne powder - 1/4 teaspoon (or more for more heat)
- Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
- Snip the stems from the mushrooms and slice the mushrooms thinly, about 1/8 inch thick. Add the mushrooms to a large bowl.
- Line a separate large bowl with paper towel.
- Squeeze the limes and toss the lime juice with the mushrooms. Set aside while you prepare the coconut oil.
- In a medium saucepan, add the coconut oil. Use a candy thermometer to check the oil is at 375 degrees. Or, add a cube of potato to the oil. When it begins to bubble, brown and float to the top, the oil is read.
- Add the mushrooms in 1 cup batches. The temperature of the oil will fall when you add the mushrooms, so make sure you are keeping an eye on the temperature. Some good signs are: the oil will froth when you add the mushrooms. It will then settle and the mushrooms will brown in 3-5 minutes.
- Using a fine mesh sieve or a slotted metal spoon, transfer the mushroom chips to the paper-towel lined bowl. Fry the remaining mushrooms until they are all done.
- Remove the paper towel from the bowl and toss the mushroom chips with the sugar, cayenne and salt.
- Serve immediately or store in an airtight container on the counter.