Fiona Smith’s mushroom dishes bring out the best of these umami kings of the kitchen.


Mushrooms are such a powerhouse of taste, bursting with a deep, rich, meaty, umami flavour. This is particularly brought out when they are cooked or dried. I love them cooked in the simplest of ways, a combination of butter and olive oil, sautéed with a sprinkle of salt, capturing the essence of their flavour. Portobello, Swiss brown and shiitake are bolder, button, enoki and oyster more delicate, while fresh wood ear is all about texture – something for all mushroom lovers. You can add other flavours of course; mushrooms love garlic, onion, lemon, herbs, nuts, cheeses and cream. They can handle bold flavours such as chilli, pepper or anchovy and they go perfectly with meats, vegetables, on toast and bread bases, eggs, pasta or grains. I have included dried mushrooms in a few of these recipes as they can really boost that umami taste, but if you would like to stick to fresh, cook a few mushrooms at the start to condense their flavour, use them to replace the dried mushrooms, then add more fresh mushrooms at the end for a bright flavour and great texture.