If you have encountered Pleurotus eryngii before, you may know them as ‘King Trumpets’, ‘Trumpet Royales’, or ‘French Horn Mushrooms’, rather than King Oyster Mushrooms.
The flavor of these mushrooms is not especially remarkable in that they have roughly the same umami/fungi taste you would get from, say, Portobello’s, fresh Shiitake, or even just the plain white Button variety. What is special about them is the texture, which is very meaty and chewy, much like the similar and related [non-King] Oyster mushrooms. They can be lovely in stews or braised dishes, but are also terrific when grilled or pan-fried by themselves with just a little seasoning…
Here, you can see the entire contents of the package I purchased for this post. These particular mushrooms were actually labeled as ‘Baby King Oysters Mushrooms’, but this merely reflects their diminutive size rather than denoting a separate sub-species. Some can grow quite large (up to a pound in weight) and I have seen some whose stem was almost as thick as my wrist.
There is quite a wide variety of sizes in the ones I purchased, as you can see. This can be a bit annoying if you are serving them whole and want uniformity in your plating and serving sizes. I would much rather be able to pick and choose from loose mushrooms rather than buy them pre-packaged. The largest one I bought was about 5 inches or so in greatest dimension and, here, I have sliced it into three sections, allowing you to see the dense inner ‘meat’.
Here is a small appetizer I put together with some of the mushrooms. I actually cooked the mushrooms in two separate steps… First, I pan-fried them in a little oil at low temperature until they threw off most of their liquid and became nicely softened, and then I continued to braise them with added butter, a little wine, minced garlic, a sprinkling of black pepper and, lastly, a little lemon juice. Later, I grilled the slices to add some pleasing grill marks, and a little addition flavor, and served them with a little sage butter drizzled over. One of the nice things about this method, if you want to use it, is that you can do the initial braising well in advance, keep the mushrooms in some of the braising liquid until needed, and then quickly grill them at the last moment before serving.