Artem Losev, chef of the Gorynych restaurant:
The season for chanterelles is long – from early June to early autumn; they grow in groups and are easy to pick. I remember when I was a teenager – I lived near St. Petersburg at the time – my friends and I used to go into the woods to pick chanterelles, always in large quantities, in whole bags, and then sell them at the nearest market.
Good chanterelles are easy to find in the shop or at the market – fortunately they don’t tend to be wormy. But pay attention to the colour: it should be colourful – if it’s pale, you’ve only picked it a week ago. And of course, it’s better to pick small mushrooms because they have more flavour and aroma and the right texture – firm and resilient – so that they won’t lose their shape if boiled or fried.
The chanterelles are easy for the cook to work with: they have an unobtrusive taste and go well with almost all foods. The simplest and tastiest way is simply to roast chanterelles with potatoes. But there are nuances. Chanterelles must be washed and dried thoroughly. In a very hot dry frying pan, without oil, let chanterelles dry for a couple of minutes, so that they get rid of all the unwanted moisture and become crispier. After this, add oil and fry for about 5-7 minutes until the chanterelles are golden in colour. Fry potatoes cut in slices in a separate pan, then add the mushrooms. At the end, you can add a little butter for a more delicate taste.
And for the seasonal menu at Kutuzovskiy 5 I make, for example, soup made from fresh chanterelles. For it I first make a mushroom broth: wash the mushrooms, put them in a saucepan, pour cold water, add an onion, a bay leaf, some dill, a couple of cloves of garlic and cook for about an hour. Cool, strain: that’s the base. Then I dice onion, fry it in olive oil until golden, add chanterelles, fry a couple more minutes, pour the broth and stew for 5 minutes. The soup is ready. Before serving, I add chopped spinach, green onions and some dill to the bottom of the plate and pour the soup. I make this soup without potatoes so it’s lighter. And no carrots either; they give off a sweetness that is completely unnecessary.
You can also make a great salad with chanterelles. Roast the chanterelles in the way described above. Boil the young potatoes in their skins, then roast them in a pan and combine with the mushrooms. For the sauce, mix together sour cream, mustard, a little garlic and herbs – parsley, dill, green onions. Season the mushrooms and potatoes with the sauce, lay on the salad leaf mixture and season with salt, pepper and aromatic sunflower oil.
Christian Lorenzini, brand chef at Christian and Buono restaurants:
In Italy the chanterelle is quite popular. The season here is divided into two parts: first at the beginning of June, then from the end of July to the beginning of August. When I was still living and working in Italy, during the season we used to go into the woods ourselves to pick chanterelles for our restaurant. In general, though, Italians don’t go to the woods for mushrooms like the Russians: they buy them at the markets or in shops. And I don’t think many Italians have ever tasted fresh chanterelles: in season, they are only on sale in the big cities, in the provinces it is difficult to find them. But every Italian home is sure to have a jar of chanterelles in oil: a very popular canned food in our country.
chanterelles do not have their own distinctive flavour and go well with meat, fish, pasta and risotto. It has a good bouncy texture, so the best way to cook chanterelles is frying.
Roast chanterelles are good as a garnish to meat dishes, for example. Wash and dry the chanterelles well, fry the shallots and a couple of cloves of garlic in a cast-iron frying pan in olive oil, add the chanterelles, salt, pepper and a sprig of rosemary. Remove from the heat, remove the garlic and shallots, sprinkle with parsley – that’s it.
In Italy, the most popular dish with chanterelles is, naturally, pasta. It is best to use a wide pasta – pappardelle or tagliatelle. Fry a couple of cloves of garlic in a pan with a thick bottom, add the chanterelles, and when they become golden, pour in some white wine and boil it off. Next add the tomato sauce or just the pelati tomatoes, stew for about 5 minutes and finally add the butter and Parmesan. Stir in the cooked pasta – and already in the plates you can sprinkle lightly with parsley.
A good way to preserve chanterelles for a year ahead is to make a preserves. Wash the mushrooms and dry them well. Then fry them in plenty of olive oil – about 5 minutes. The chanterelles will give off juice while frying, so make sure it all evaporates or the preserves will be ruined. Then cool the chanterelles, put them in prepared jars and add spices: whatever you like. Garlic, bay leaf, rosemary are good. Be sure to add salt and pepper – and keep the preserves in a dark place.
Mikhail Vishnevsky, mycologist and owner of the Mushroom Place shop:
The chanterelle is one of the main mushrooms in Russia: its yield is about 20 per cent of the total mushroom mass (white mushrooms, for example, are only 3-5 per cent). The chanterelle season is long – from the first days of summer to the middle of October. If autumn is warm, you can also see chanterelles in November. Moreover, chanterelles have no distinctive growth pattern: they grow throughout the season, just choose wetter places, closer to marshes, in dry seasons, and drier ones, on the contrary, in rainy seasons.
The chanterelle always bears fruit in masses – in clusters, groups, families, almost a continuous cover sometimes. It grows all over Russia, including mountain forests. It’s absent only in places with no trees – in tundra, because it doesn’t like dwarf trees.
For example, in Germany and France our yellow chanterelles are considered a delicacy. Just recently I was in Germany, it was the season for chanterelles, but not all restaurants have them, and in those that do, dishes with chanterelles cost between 20 and 500 euros. This is due to the complexity of collecting mushrooms in Europe: you need a special license, a lot of permits, and you may be fined for unauthorized collection of mushrooms. For this reason, large quantities of chanterelles are imported to Europe from Russia and Belarus.
There are fungi that form mycorrhiza () with only one or a few tree species. The oak, for example, only grows under an oak tree. The chanterelle, on the other hand, forms mycorrhiza with a huge number of trees.
Another important feature of the chanterelle is that it remains on the root much longer than other mushrooms. A common mushroom takes two to four days to develop, then spoils and ages – but chanterelles can last up to two weeks, plus they keep well in the fridge for another week.
It has no dangerous counterparts, except the so-called false chanterelle, a relative of the chanterelle: they look similar, but unlike the real chanterelle, the veins are bright orange instead of yellow, and it is hollow inside. But this mushroom is also completely non-poisonous: you can eat it and no harm will come of it.
The chanterelle is never wormy (which, incidentally, is why it and the champignon are the only kosher mushrooms). The explanation is very simple: in nature, everything is built on energy expediency. Suppose that in order to get from a certain substance that represents the bulk of the flesh of the mushroom, eventually get glucose, that is energy in almost pure form, must work a certain chain of enzymes. Roughly speaking, enzyme A will split the original substance, enzyme C will split it again, and enzyme D will modify it and turn it into glucose. This is how the digestive enzymes of all insect larvae that eat mushrooms work. And the chanterelle mushroom in this respect is a genius: it builds its flesh from such proteins, polysaccharides, and carbohydrates that it needs another enzyme before A to break it down. That is, the insect needs to produce additional enzyme 0, which translates it into enzyme A and then starts the whole chain. As this is one extra operation, it is less advantageous energetically – consequently, that’s why none of them eat chanterelles.
The chanterelle can also be called a medicinal mushroom: it has a host of beneficial properties. It is used for liver diseases, obesity, to improve skin and eyesight. For instance, in China chanterelles are a must for people constantly working on the computer. The chanterelles are not destroyed by heat treatment, with one exception: if there is a need to use chanterelles as antihelminthics, they use vodka or alcohol infusions, because the chitinmannose substance is destroyed at 80 degrees.
The chanterelles have a smooth, mild flavour, with a slight sourness and a slight bitterness. The sourness goes away when cooked, but the bitterness is different. The worst way to prepare chanterelles is to freeze them fresh: the bitterness increases several times. For this reason, boil chanterelles in salted water for around 10 minutes until they are half-ready – in this way they will retain their shape and aroma. But I consider drying to be the best way of preserving mushrooms. There are special machines, dryers for vegetables, but it can also be done with improvised means: String the mushrooms on a thread or fishing line and hang them outside on a warm day. Dried chanterelles can then be ground into a powder and added to various sauces and soups for flavour.
I like to make chanterelle jam. It goes very well with cheeses and wine, and can also be spread on toast and butter: a great breakfast. I base my jam on natural juice, such as lingonberry juice.
And here’s another good recipe: Galician-style chanterelle jam. Put a kilo of chanterelles, 300 grams of sugar, some vanilla and cinnamon in a large bowl and marinate overnight in the refrigerator. The next morning, put all the contents of the bowl into a saucepan, pour a glass of water and simmer on a low heat for an hour. Then add half a sweet apple and two tablespoons of lemon juice to the mushrooms and simmer for about 30 more minutes (add a little more water if necessary).