The King Oyster mushroom, otherwise known as Pleurotus Eryngii, boasts a meaty flavor and holds a lot of texture. Its distinctive trumpet-like shape is made up of a brown cap and a white stem that can grow to be 6 to 8 inches long and up to 2 inches wide. A single mushroom can even weigh well over one pound, making the King Oyster the largest of the Oyster genus. Other names for the species include King Trumpet, French Horn, King Eryngii, and Royal Trumpet.
Native to the Mediterranean regions as well as parts of Asia and North Africa, the King Oyster mushroom is naturally grown on the roots of hardwood trees and emerges from the soil. While other Oyster varieties produce shelf-life formations, King Oysters maintain a defined stem with a round and stout cap. Fruiting time depends on both temperature and humidity with ideal conditions sitting at a temperature of 15 to 18 degrees Celsius and a humidity of 80 to 90 percent. With proper growing techniques and cultivation practices, these mushrooms can be grown both inside and outside at all times of year.
The timing of the harvest largely depends on the preference of the cultivator. Younger mushrooms typically offer more desirable textures and flavors while older mushrooms provide the prized large stems that are characteristic of King Oysters. These stems are special in that they are less fibrous than those of Shiitake mushrooms and Portobello mushrooms, making them particularly pleasant to eat. When harvesting King Oysters, the mushroom is removed at the base of the stem and stored in clusters to increase shelf life. Fresh mushrooms keep for up to 10 days in the fridge while dried mushrooms keep for 18 months.
Given their chewy taste, resilient texture, and grand size, King Oysters are valued by chefs and are a favorite addition to many recipes. These hearty mushrooms are highly versatile and can be prepared whole or in smaller pieces depending on their intended culinary use. Preparation methods range from braising and broiling to grilling and sautéing, and the cooking time varies accordingly. Given their meaty texture and thick consistency, these earthy mushrooms are great meat substitutes in vegetarian and vegan cooking, replacing ingredients such as pulled pork, squid, and scallops. Additional uses include Asian stir-fry recipes, barbecue skewers, vegetable stews, and pasta sauces - Matsutake mushrooms can be substituted in many of these.