Those of you who have been here awhile will know by now how much of a produce geek I am. I look forward to our local Saturday farmers markets with much excitement, get my kicks out of growing our own herbs and vegetables and if anyone ever invites me on a farm tour, I'm there with bells on.
Yesterday, on a super crisp winters day I got to look around Western Australia's largest mushroom growing facility with a bunch of fellow local Perth food lovers. I'd like to think I'm pretty well versed with the ins and outs of how mushrooms form and grow in the wild, but seeing this kind of commercial production was such an eye opener! Not only did we get to see the beautiful (and tasty) little mushrooms at every stage of their growth, but I learnt some crazy facts as well. Like, did you know mushrooms double in size in one day, and that us Western Australians purchase a whopping 110 tonnes of mushrooms every week? Awesome aye! Of those 110 tonne, 80 tonne are grown at Mushroom Exchange, just south of Perth City where we were yesterday, in a large housed facility that smells of sweet fertile soil and damp forest floors.
I've long been a fan of eating mushrooms, but even more so since my last blood tests showed up that like so many people these days, I'm deficient in vitamin D. I was kinda shocked to say the least, I mean I live in one of the hottest, sunniest cities on the planet?! But, when you work indoors like me and don't get out in the sun as much as you'd like to other than over the summer holidays, well, it's actually pretty easy to not get enough of the good stuff via the sun. Up until recently it was believed that we couldn't get enough Vitamin D from food sources alone, but we now know that simply isn't true. Mushrooms which are exposed to UV light either during growth, or set out in the midday sun after picking, absorb and retain Vitamin D from the suns rays. It totally blows my mind that you can place mushrooms bought from the store out into the sun and, for want of a better word, 'charge' them up in the sunshine! I'm constantly in awe of mother nature and seeing these little mushies growing in their large beds as tall as the ceiling, knowing their potential to deliver the vitamin D my body so needs, is just plain awesome.
Tomatoes are grown all year round here in Perth, so I've used fresh. I'm sure you could get away with using tinned tomatoes if you don't live somewhere warm enough to have tomatoes in the middle of winter, you might just want to add a touch more sugar to balance out the acidic nature of tinned tomatoes.
600g button mushrooms
3 large tomatoes (400g)
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons ghee (or olive oil for vegan/dairy-free option)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Pinch chilli powder or dried chilli
3/4-1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Pinch muscovado or unrefined raw sugar, to taste
Cooked basmati rice and coriander (cilantro) leaves, to serve
Fill your jug with water and boil.Trim ends off the mushrooms, then use a damp cloth to wipe off any little bits of dirt.
Remove the core (the little end piece where it once joined to the plant) of the tomatoes with a sharp knife, then make a shallow cross cut on the round end. Place into a bowl and pour over boiling water. Allow to sit for 1 minute before draining off water. The skins should now slip off easily. Roughly chop the tomatoes and place into a small food processor, with the ginger and garlic. Blend until a puree forms. If you don't have a food processor, simply chop the tomatoes and garlic finely.
Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add fennel and cumin seeds and cook for 20 seconds. Add mushrooms, stir well and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring often. Add coriander, turmeric, chilli, salt and mix well before adding the tomato mixture (watch out as it may spit). Stir well, cover with a lid, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the lid, increase heat slightly and cook for a further 5-8 minutes, stirring often until the sauce thickens. Add a pinch of sugar, to taste, you just want it to take the edge off the sourness from the tomatoes. Serve hot with basmati rice and scattered with coriander (cilantro) leaves. Store any leftovers in a glass jar/container in the fridge for 2-3 days. When you re-heat you might need to add a touch of water to adjust the sauce consistency.
Disclaimer: This blog post was sponsored by The Australian Mushroom Growers Association, as always all views are 100% my own. I only share things I love and those I think you will love also.