The little girl in me, the one with tomato sauce on her cheek, wanted to exclaim, “Lookie what I found!” but the cook in me said I should get a grip and contain my excitement. After all, I was standing at the counter in a restaurant with other patrons.
All this enthusiasm centered on the delicate petals sitting in a basket on the counter. At first, they fooled me. I thought it was a basket of rose petals for, perhaps, sachet.
Eyeing them closer, I realized this was a basketful of beautiful, fragile, Pink Oyster Mushrooms—also known as the “Flamingo Oyster” or Pleurotus flabellatus (that name gives me the giggles by the way).
They are most at home in the tropics, although with adequate levels of warmth, they can be homegrown too. In most areas of the continental United States, if they are available, they appear from May to September. (I spied these in Kauai, which is why they defy the continental growing period.)
They decompose faster than other varieties so if you find them and want to use them, be prepared with a recipe so you will be able to put them to use the same day.
The woman behind the counter, Laralei, recommended them for soups, although they lose their pink luster as they languish in a simmer. Additionally, she shared a delightful recipe with me for a side dish served with fish.
Since I didn’t ask permission to copy her recipe in print, I will simply describe it. Let your sense of adventure fill in the blanks. You can also use regular oyster mushrooms with the same flavor results but you will sacrifice the ooohs and aaaahs when the plate arrives without the blooming pink color.
Hollow a mini evergreen tomato and discard the flesh. Sweat 1 tablespoon of chopped shallots in one tablespoon of butter. Add the pink oyster mushrooms and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes, until tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Fill each of the green tomatoes with some of the mushrooms. Place the tomatoes on a tray in a 350° oven for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes are hot.
Next, quickly wilt some beet greens with butter and the remaining shallots until the bitterness is cooked out of the beet greens (several minutes). Season with salt and pepper.
Place the tomato on the plate. Position the beet greens in front of the tomato. Drizzle some basil oil over the tomato.
Quickly sauté filleted flounder, salmon, red snapper or trout on both sides, in a splash of grapeseed oil, in a hot sauté pan. Add the fish to the plate. Drizzle the fish with some beef stock reduction and enjoy.