Fresh Wild Morels Abound at the Oyster Bar

Wild Morel Mushroom Season

It’s the last week of the Wild Morel season here and Chef Justin Gordon is taking full advantage of them.

Morels are considered to be the best spring mushroom because of their wonderful smoky, earthy and complex flavor. This week we’re serving them with Grilled Wild Columbia Sturgeon which is paired with Smoked Tomato Chardonnay Butter and Sauteed Morels. Also featuring the prized morels is the Herb Grilled New Zealand Elk Chopwhich is finished with a sauce of Morels, Roasted Shallots, Oloroso and Demiglace. Our Vegetarian Entree is Mushroom Gnocchi with morels, oyster mushrooms, asparagus spears, potato gnocchi, tomato concasse, shaved parmesan and black truffle mushroom broth. Our Vegetarian Soup, Summer Asparagus Soup is garnished with morels, roasted garlic oil and shaved manchego.

If you’d like to try using fresh morels at home, you can often find them at the local market. Edible morels vary in color from golden and black, which we favor here at the Oyster Bar but you may also find them in tan or a gray color. The average size is two to four inches but they can be as long as eight inches. Be sure to choose clean, dry morels with a fresh woodsy smell. Be aware that morels are best used fresh, but if you must store them, they seem to keep best stored in a paper bag in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to use them, just rinse and dry them and they’re ready to go.

Many are tempted to hunt for their own morels. Please be aware that there are more poisonous mushrooms than edible ones and it takes experience and expertise to know the difference. It’s best to go out with a local mycological society on your first mushroom picking trip. A good field guide will also have pictures and descriptions to help prevent a deadly mistake. Here in many areas of Washington State, a personal use permit is also required to go mushroom hunting. Those that enjoy hunting their own mushrooms claim that the hunt enhances the whole experience of preparing and enjoying them.

Whether you’re eating your own hand picked morels, fresh market morels, or professionally prepared morels such as those served here at the Oyster Bar, be sure to only eat cooked morels. It’s best to only eat a couple of teaspoons of cooked morels when eating them for the first time. Then wait for twenty four hours to be sure there is no allergic reaction.