I left my run too late, however, and by the time I’d done a lap of the place and come back he had sold out, with nothing left but some dried porcini for my risotto.
Mandy Sinclair’s Mushroom and Ginger Pot Sticker’s, from our book Grow Harvest Cook (below) will have to wait till next time.
We got chatting, however, so I can tell you the extroadinary way he is growing his crop of treasures. In shipping containers. Reinforced and half buried into an embankment to keep them cool.
Mushrooms are one of those strange things that actually like growing in the dark…as long as the air is cool and moist then they’re happy. They are sometimes grown commercially in disused railway tunnels.
Gathering wild mushrooms is enormously popular in Europe, and in some parts of Australia Europeans often forage in forests for some of their favourites. Mushrooming in the Oberon Pine Forests with some Italian family friends is one of my favourite memories from childhood. They would have the BBQ set up there and cook them as they were found. Eating wild mushrooms requires an expert eye, as poisonous toodstools can be deadly.
Our First Nations people handed down knowledge of which were good to eat orally from one generation to another. For a fascinating look at what some Aborigines regarded as “fallen stars”, the Australian National Botanic Gardens website has a great article.
…and if I make it back to the markets in time for mushrooms next time, here’s the recipe.
Mushroom and Ginger Pot Stickers
¼ cup vegetable oil
600 g (1 lb 5 oz) button
mushrooms, very finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 long red chillies, finely chopped
3 spring onions (scallions),chopped
½ cup chopped coriander
(cilantro), plus extra leaves to garnish
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
250 g (9 oz) fresh wonton wrappers
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon finely shredded
2 teaspoons white sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a frying pan over a high heat.
Cook the mushrooms for 5 minutes until soft and dry. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli. Cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the spring onion, coriander, fish sauce and soy sauce and stir to combine. Set aside to cool.
2 Working with one wonton wrapper at a time, place 1 teaspoon of the mushroom mixture into the centre. Moisten the edges of the wrapper with a little water. Fold the wrapper over and pleat the edges together to enclose the fi lling. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.
3 Heat half of the remaining oil and ¼ cup water in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add half of the wontons and cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for another 2 minutes, until the water is evaporated and the wontons are golden and crisp on the base. Repeat the process using the remaining oil and another ¼ cup water and cook the remaining wontons.
4 To make the dipping sauce, mix together all the sauce ingredients.
Serve the wontons with the dipping sauce and garnish with the extra coriander leaves.
MAKES ABOUT 30
TIP You can assemble the wontons up to 4 hours ahead of time.
Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook.