Veteran Maine forager and mycologist David Spahr whips this up for a weeknight dinner.
Photographed by Derek Bissonnette
David Spahr calls this dish “Thai, Japanese, Italian Linguini.” It’s a mash-up making use of what’s on hand, a skill Spahr has perfected during some 50 years foraging mushrooms and other wild-sourced foods, some of which he delivers to midcoast restaurant kitchens (along with the peaches he grows on his property in Washington). The author of Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms of New England and Eastern Canada, Spahr says last year was a lousy one for fungi, but he found a lot of oyster mushrooms come fall, which bring an “anise, almond type of aroma” to the dish. Hen of the woods and lion’s mane would be tasty substitutes, he says — and if you weren’t out picking last year, store-bought is fine.
Visit David Spahr’s mushroom-collecting.com for details on identifying and preparing common mushrooms or to inquire about guided Maine mushroom and foraging walks.
6–8 ounces fresh oyster mushrooms olive oil (or another neutral oil with a high smoke point) 4–6 ounces shrimp 1⁄4 bulb garlic, chopped 2 tablespoons salted butter curly-leaf parsley dry white wine 1 14-ounce packet stir-fry rice noodles (Spahr uses the Thai Kitchen brand) seasoned rice vinegar (Spahr likes Marukan) 12 raw mussels salt pepper
Slice the oyster mushrooms, not too thin. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and sauté the mushrooms until well browned, then set them aside.
Sear the shrimp and set aside. (Spahr makes the dish using cooked and de-shelled mussels, searing them just before the shrimp, then setting aside. We’ve used shelled — see below. Sometimes, Spahr skips both and subs scallops.) Around this time, set a pot of water to boil- ing, so it’s ready for the noodles.
Add a spot of oil to the pan and lightly brown the garlic. Next, add the butter — four pats, at least. Return the mushrooms and shrimp to the pan and add the mussels and a generous amount of parsley. Bring up the heat and deglaze with white wine. Cover and cook for 2–3 minutes, until the mussels open.
Add the noodles to the water and cook to a tad beyond al dente (it happens fast), then drain the noodles. Add a liberal amount of rice vinegar to the well-drained noodles. Set the mushroom and shellfish mix atop the seasoned noodles. Season with salt and pepper and more fresh parsley, then serve.