Monday, June 16, 2008

Spinach and Inedible Mushroom Salad

Two of the first signs of spring in Hungary were wild mushrooms and spinach. And unlike the spinach I bought in September, this spinach raw didn't cause a burning sensation in my throat. I washed the spinach, cooked the mushrooms with some wine, combined them, and dressed it all with a soy sauce dressing like I'd seen my aunt use on a spinach salad. The results were excellent.

I wanted to find out what kind of mushrooms I had used before I posted this recipe. The old lady who sold me the mushrooms told me they were called szegfűgomba. I googled this to find the mushroom's latin name, marasmius wynnei. A bit more googling told me that in English it went by pearly parachute and violetter schwindling. It also informed that this mushroom is inedible. Luckily for me, the same mushroom in Hungarian is a "[j]ó ehető gomba, amelyet - bár kicsiny - érdemes gyűjteni"--a good, edible mushroom, which though small is worth collecting. The Hungarians are onto something because it was indeed good, with a deep, meaty flavor. Just to make all you people stuck in the U.S. jealous, let me mention that wild porcini--vargányagomba--are only $4.32/pound here, and chantarelles--rókagomba--are just $6.61 a pound. But then you have dryers, which starts to make up for it.

I'm giving weights for the spinach and mushrooms, but I'm not sure of them and you should just use your judgment. But take into account that mushrooms really shrink a lot when you cook them. My amounts for the dressing are also guesses because I can't remember how much of everything I ended up using. But that's probably good, since some soy sauces are stronger than others and you'd have to adjust anyway. This is for two people.

  • 1/3 pound spinach, washed
  • 1/3 pound mushrooms, cut into one-inch pieces--if the mushrooms are small, like szegfűgomba, you don't have to cut them at all
  • 2 tbs. white wine
  • 1 tbs. olive oil or butter
  • salt, pepper


  • 1 tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 tbs. lemon juice
  • 3 tbs. olive oil

In a big pan, heat the oil or butter and add the mushrooms, wine, and salt. Cook over high heat until all the liquid--the wine and the juice that the mushrooms will release after a few minutes--is gone, which will take about 15 minutes. Once the mushrooms are cooking in fat, turn down the heat a bit, stir occasionally, and let the mushrooms brown. Put them over the spinach.

Mix up the dressing. I always do this in a jar. Taste, adjust, and mix it into the salad.

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