Harvesting chicken of the woods
This mushroom can be slightly toxic depending on the tree it grows ( conifers, eucalyptus & cedars are common offenders). When foraging ALWAYS do your own research and be confident in what you harvest.
I found these brilliant yellowish-orange mushrooms growing on a carob tree in my neighborhood. After a quick google I identified the fungi as Laetiporus sulphureus - Chicken of the woods or sulphur shelf. Growing up in Southern California, it never occurred to me that something like this would grow in such an urban area let alone eat it. Discovering that you could find wild food growing right here in Los Angeles was surprising and exciting.
-- Basic way to prepare --
1. Wash and cut off any wood, dirt or hard parts of the mushroom. Chicken of the woods is better harvested when it’s still fleshy and feels wet.
2. I sliced the mushroom in half (think butterfly) to make thinner pieces for quicker cooking. Some suggest boiling the mushrooms first before frying to ensure they are fully cooked.
3. Salted butter on med heat in a pan. This allows you to sauté the mushrooms with butter without burning. These mushrooms are very porous so they will absorb the butter as you cook. Once you’ve cook them through you’ll notice the color turn darker orange/red.
In the last picture, you can see the fibers in the "meat" when broken apart - It's appearance reminded me of tandoori chicken for you Indian cuisine fans.
The flavor is delicate and meaty living up to it’s given name.
Looking for other ways to enjoy these mushrooms so let me know how you like to prepare them and please share any tips or suggestions.
Special thanks to @christopher_nyerges for the foraging inspiration.
These mushrooms were delicious so I gave some to a friend, who ended up experiencing some symptoms similar to minor food poisoning. I suspect the mushrooms weren't fully cooked and/or she had a reaction to them. Because of this I'd recommend fully cooking the mushrooms and sampling a small portion to see if you have any sensitivity to the new food.
Young mushrooms growing after the first good rain in Nov.
Same mushrooms matured. These looked soft and felt wet to the touch. Some of the portions on the top were already drying out and hardening. Any harder calloused parts should be trimmed.
Trimmed and cleaned. Some of the thicker pieces were butterflied to aid in cooking.
noticed the coloration when cooked.
the texture look incredibly similar to the fibers in chicken meat.