There are many varieties of fresh mushrooms available in supermarkets and specialty markets in the United States.
Button (or Field) Mushrooms are the most common mushrooms grown and sold. They are plump and dome-shaped with a smooth texture and mild flavor. The color of button mushrooms varies from white to pale tan.
Chanterelle mushrooms, which are yellowish-orange in color, grow wild in Pacific Northwest forests and in Europe. They have a flared trumpetlike shape, delicate flavor and fruity fragrance. Chanterelles are available fresh, but in limited supply, in the late spring. They are more commonly available dried.
Enoki are Japanese mushrooms that are now cultivated in California. They have long, thin stems with tiny caps. They are creamy white in color with a delicate, slightly fruity flavor. Enoki mushrooms are very perishable and should be used within two or three days. Unlike other mushrooms they do not require cleaning, but any mass at the base of the stems should be removed. They are best eaten fresh.
Morels are wild mushrooms that are difficult to cultivate. They have an elongated spongelike dome and a rich, intense earthy flavor. Look for them in the spring.
Oyster mushrooms are wild mushrooms from Asia that are now cultivated in the United States. They have a broad shell shape. Oyster mushrooms are creamy white to pale brown in color with a strong peppery flavor when raw but a milder cooked flavor. They are very perishable and should be used within two or three days.
Portobello mushrooms have large pancake-shaped dark brown caps on thick tough stems. They have a firm texture when cooked and a beeflike flavor. Because of their large size and sturdiness, they are a good choice for grilling. They are sometimes substituted for beef in vegetarian sandwiches, stir-fries and fajitas.
Shiitake are wild mushrooms from Japan that are easily cultivated. They have brown caps, a firm texture and thin tough stems, which are usually trimmed away. Their woodsy odor and rich, smoky mushroom flavor contribute to their popularity.
Straw mushrooms, an Asian variety with a deep umbrella-shaped cap, are more commonly seen canned than fresh. Look for fresh straw mushrooms at Asian markets. They have a mild flavor.
The following dried mushrooms are usually available in large supermarkets and specialty markets:
Chanterelle mushrooms are yellow-orange in color and have a flared, hornlike shape.
Porcini mushrooms (also known as
cèpes) are tan to pale brown in color. They have a pungent, woodsy
Wood ears (also known as cloud ears and tree ears) are popular in Asian cuisines. They are available in Asian markets and large supermarkets.