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Black Pearl King Oyster Mushrooms - What a Mouthfull!

If you've been to our stall, you've definitely seen our array of Black Pearl King Oyster Mushrooms. They really are quite the sight - smoky, marbled, King Oyster-like velvet caps projecting from a creamy-white. fist-sized base. Maybe a few of you were even a little intimidated by the copious Moxie on display - that's nothing to be ashamed of.

Although we love to talk about Black Pearl King Oyster Mushrooms, it takes such a very long time to do so, on account of their rather long-winded English name. In the trade, we usually abbreviate to BPK, but since this particular strain of Oyster Mushroom was created in Japan to supplement their already expansive culinary use of gourmet mushrooms by crossing local Hiratake (Pleurotus ostreatus, known by their English name as "Pearl Oyster Mushrooms") strains with European varieties, we could perhaps call them by their Japanese name, as is common for mushrooms traditionally consumed in Japan before making their way into Western cuisine, such as Shiitake and Maitake. In Japan, this type of Hiratake are called Shimofuri, meaning 'marbled', in reference to the patterned colouration of the caps of this mushroom when grown under ideal conditions, and a mark of quality.

Selected to provide a King Oyster-like cap and stipe (the stem or stalk of a mushroom) with a more delicate texture than regular King Oysters, it's clear that the creamy projections and marbled caps are intended to be prepared and consumed much as one handles King Oysters - sliced in to disks and sautéed. One could simply tear the projections onwards through the base, handling each strip in the same way, or cook each whole as a drumstick/wingette. In the picture below, the drumstick formations are quite evident:

During our cooking experiments, we discovered we could clip off the projecting 'King' caps at their base leaving the main body reminiscent of a small puffball mushroom. This leaves a sizeable portion of incredibly tender tissue that can be cooked whole like a chicken breast, pressed or cut into strips for steaks, nuggets and medallions, marinated, breaded or sauced, or anything else you can imagine! As with Lion's Mane Mushrooms, the natural tear lines through the tissue lend themselves very well to a 'pulled pork' treatment.

Shimofuri is very much a two-for-one deal. Food for thought, next time you see a basket full at our market stall and wonder "What would I do with that?"

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