Fabulous Fungi: Five Valley Mushroom Dishes

Marilyn HawkesDecember 27, 2022
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Mushrooms have long been touted for their medicinal and nutritional qualities. In fact, the American Mushroom Institute reports that mushrooms strengthen the immune system and are high in antioxidants that promote good health. To that end, we’ve rounded up five Valley dishes featuring a variety of fungi that are nutritious as well as delicious.

Mushroom “Menudo” at Tía Carmen; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield
Mushroom “Menudo” at Tía Carmen; Photo by Mirelle Inglefield

Mushroom “Menudo” at Tía Carmen 

Menudo is a traditional Mexican soup made with tripe – and not coincidentally, a dish that even the most ardent lovers of Mexican cuisine often avoid. But at Tía Carmen, the terrific new flagship restaurant at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, the faux “menudo” is fashioned from cordyceps and cauliflower mushrooms bathed in an intoxicating broth with oregano, chile de árbol, Chimayo chile and smoked paprika highlights. Why call it menudo? Executive chef Angelo Sosa noticed the mushrooms, with their odd cruciferous folds, bear an uncanny resemblance to the ungulate stomach lining typically found in the soup. Both mushrooms burst with umami and have a delicate mouthfeel. The dish is best eaten with a squirt of fresh lime juice to “make the dish pop and bring the spices to the forefront,” Sosa says. Cauliflower mushrooms have many medical applications, including anti-tumor and anti-carcinogenic properties, according to the National Institutes for Health, and studies involving cordyceps mushrooms show that the fungi may improve oxygen consumption during high-intensity exercise and aid post-workout recovery. 

5350 E. Marriott Dr., Phoenix
480-293-3636, tiacarmendesertridge.com

Fun fact: Cordyceps mushrooms are widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. 

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Photo Courtesy Crujiente Tacos
Photo Courtesy Crujiente Tacos

Garlic Roasted Mushroom Taco at CRUjiente Tacos 

Chef-owner Rich Hinojosa serves a taco at his Phoenix eatery that reads like an all-star roster of salubrious fungi, including juicy portobellos loaded with B vitamins; earthy shiitakes that boast immune-boosting, cholesterol-lowering and anti-cancer properties; and meaty maitake mushrooms, also known as hen-of-the-woods, that stimulate the immune system and lower blood-sugar levels. Hinojosa starts by tossing the mushrooms in a garlic and olive oil purée and roasting them at high heat to caramelize. He then sets them atop a house-made blue corn tortilla spread with local Crow’s Dairy chèvre whipped with a purée of parsley, cilantro and jalapeño. He tops the taco with dots of jalapeño aioli to lend some heat and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro to brighten. While you’re there, check out the showstopper strip steak taco with pickled shimeji mushrooms (sometimes known as white beech mushrooms), which are rich in calcium, potassium, phosphorous and iron. 

3961 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix
602-687-7777, crutacos.com

Photo Courtesy Crujiente Tacos
Photo Courtesy Crujiente Tacos

Fun fact: China produces about 80-90 percent of all shiitake mushrooms worldwide.

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Photo Courtesy Hearth ‘61
Photo Courtesy Hearth ‘61

Fun fact: There are close to 40 types of oyster mushrooms, which can grow in shades of gray, yellow, pink and blue.

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Tempura Oyster Mushrooms at Hearth ’61

For people who can’t pass up a savory fried appetizer, Hearth ’61 at Mountain Shadows resort in Paradise Valley serves tempura oyster mushrooms packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and protein to lower cholesterol levels. The mild mushrooms grow in clusters on the trunks of dead or dying trees in forested areas and have a tender texture that’s easy to chew, especially when encased in a crispy rice-flour tempura shell. Chef de cuisine Yulissa Acosta pairs the nutty mushrooms with a fall succotash of sautéed butternut squash, diced confited parsnips, dehydrated smoked corn and bits of haricots verts. The mushrooms and succotash sit in a dreamy pool of puréed celery root laced with garlic, thyme and bay leaves and then blended with butter. Drizzles of hazelnut salsa “matcha” – a blend of green tea powder, toasted hazelnuts, dried chiles, chipotle peppers, garlic and shallots – finish the dish, along with sprigs of cilantro.

5445 E. Lincoln Dr., Paradise Valley
480-624-5458, mountainshadows.com/dining/hearth

Photo by Jill Richards/Courtesy Kai
Photo by Jill Richards/Courtesy Kai

Fun fact: Lion’s mane mushrooms have shaggy spines that resemble – you guessed it – a lion’s mane.

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Black Garlic Risotto with Arizona Mushrooms at Kai 

When chef de cuisine Drew Anderson developed the new menu at Kai, the celebrated fine-dining restaurant at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass, he envisioned a dish that showcases Arizona mushrooms. The delicious outcome of his mushroom ambition is this wheat berry and black garlic risotto, which gathers tender lion’s mane mushrooms, mildly sweet chestnut mushrooms and delicate blue and yellow oyster mushrooms onto a single, luxurious platform of umami richness. Anderson first cooks Ramona Farms wheat berries in mushroom stock, and then uses the stock and mushroom trimmings, black garlic, white wine, soy sauce and brown sugar to make a purée that he folds back into the risotto. Each variety of mushroom is then cooked separately in one of three ways: confited (cooked in fat); seared and roasted; or cold-compressed (a method that compresses foods and concentrates the flavor). Anderson then makes a fungi and herb tea to pour tableside and complement the risotto. Deliciousness aside, lion’s mane mushrooms are rich in vitamins and contain hericenone, a compound that purportedly helps prevent dementia, while chestnut mushrooms are rich in amino acids and vitamins. 

5594 W. Wild Horse Pass Blvd., Phoenix
602-385-5777, wildhorsepass.com/restaurants/kai

Photo Courtesy Pita Jungle
Photo Courtesy Pita Jungle

Portobello Burger at Pita Jungle

At Modern Mediterranean mainstay Pita Jungle, nutritious eating is front and center, and the vegetarian grilled portobello mushroom burger is no exception. Stacked with roasted red bell pepper, leafy baby arugula, a thick slab of tomato and a knot of caramelized onions with a shot of garlicky pesto, all over a meaty, marinated portobello, this burger screams healthy and nourishing. Portobello mushrooms have around 20 calories each and roughly 400 milligrams of  potassium, the equivalent of one banana. They’re also a great source of riboflavin (Vitamin B2), which aids the body’s breakdown of carbs into sugar. As with many mushrooms, portobellos are chockfull of polysaccharides to help fight inflammation and have antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. The mighty portobello is also high in fiber and low in fat. Just make sure you have an ample supply of napkins before tucking into this luscious, juice-dripping sammie. 

Multiple Valley locations
pitajungle.com

Fun fact: Portobello mushrooms are the fully grown, adult version of cremini mushrooms.

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