Kitsap Peninsula Mycological Society KPMS: Amanita Kitsap Peninsula Mycological Society
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KPMS Mushroom of the Month for October 2009

Botanical:

Gomphus clavatus
Photo © Michael Wood,
courtesy of MykoWeb

Gomphus clavatus
Common: Pig's Ears
Description: Fruiting body vase shaped, 2.5-10cm wide, up to 20cm high, with two or more irregularly shaped caps arising from a shared stem and often fusing together at their edges; Upper Surface pale brown to light or dark lilac, often fading to creamy tan or paler, smooth or with very tiny, scattered scales; Undersurface wrinkled, dark lilac or purple when young but often fading to pale lilac, running down the stem; Stem 10-50 x 10-20mm, very short, often curved, sometimes fused with adjacent stems, buff to pale lilac; smooth to minutely hairy. Flesh whitish to pale pink or lilac; Taste "mushroomy"; Smell none to mild.
Habitat: Mycorrhizal with spruce & firs, growing singly to gregariously, usually close to roots or tree trunks, late fall to mid-winter.
Primary keys: Tawny upper surface with dull wrinkled lilac undersurface; vase shaped with wavy edges; frequently fused together clumps; near fir trunks/roots.
Edibility: Some consider this a choice edible, others find it mediocre, while others purportedly get gastric distress. Most guides consider it edible, but as always, sample first!
 
Notes: This distant cousin of the chanterelles is easy to distinguish. If it sorta looks like the ridges of a Chanterelle instead of distinct gills, and sort looks like the top of a Scaly Chanterelle, is sorta orange on top & violety-purple below, and is very near a fir trunk or root, it's probably a Pig's Ear. It's actually much harder to describe than to identify!

Recipe: Mexican Mushroom Soup

This recipe came about from the intersection of reading an article about the traditional mycological knowledge of Zapotecs from Oaxaca, Mexico, and a mushroom soup I had in Mexico City. Plus to cooler weather means it's soup time!

1 lb. Gomphus clavatus, cut into 1" matchsticks
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1-2 poblano chilies, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. no-salt butter
2 t. epazote (or Mexican oregano)
1 T. salt
1/2 t. ground white pepper
1 T. flour
2 C. chicken stock
1 C. water
1 C. half and half
1/2 C. Mexican crema
   (or creme fraiche or sour cream)
1 medium Haas avocado

Saute mushrooms over medium heat in a soup pot with 1 T. butter until tender but not browned. Remove mushrooms from pot and set aside. Saute onions and chilies with the remaining butter for 4-5 minutes until soft but not browned. Add the garlic & epazote, and saute for another 2 minutes without browning. Add the salt, pepper & flour, saute another 2 minutes stirring continuously. Add the stock, water, and all but 1/2 C. of the mushrooms. Simmer for 15-20 minutes uncovered, or until vegetables are very soft.

Remove from heat and let cool a bit. Run the soup thru a blender until fairly smooth, then return to pot. Add half-and-half and reheat slowly without boiling. Adjust seasonings.

Ladle soup into bowls, and top each with a dollop of crema, a couple thin slices of avocado, and a few of the reserved mushroom sticks.

Note: you can find dried epazote in the Mexican section in some grocery stores, or in a Mexican grocery store. You'll need to pick out the tough stems.