Celebrity chef Adam Liaw on how to cook with mushrooms


Protein and plant-based, mushrooms are a great alternative to otherwise traditional sources of nutrients and the best thing is, they’re so easy to eat, use and cook with!

Adam Liaw, winner of Masterchef Australia season two, explains more…

How can you increase veg consumption for the whole family?

One of the easiest ways to increase your vegetable consumption is to look for substitutions in your cooking. Australian Mushrooms are great for this because they have a great texture that’s suitable for a lot of different forms of cooking, as well as having a depth of flavour that matches well with meat or poultry.

You don’t have to go completely vegetarian with your dishes, either. Try adding chopped mushrooms to replace half the meat in any dish you might use mince, from bolognese and beef stew to burgers and Shepherd’s pie.

Australian Mushrooms are high in chitin, a kind of fibre, so they’re a great high-fibre substitute for meat.

Here’s my recipe for a Wellington burger where the patty is made 50:50 from Australian Mushrooms and beef mince.

Chopping Australian Mushrooms

First things first, you don’t need to break the stalk off mushrooms. I see some people do this out of habit but you absolutely should not be doing that. All of the mushroom is edible so if you’re throwing out the stalk you’re just wasting your money. You don’t need to trim the stalk, either.

Use the stalk to stabilise the mushroom as you cut. Place the mushroom on your cutting board so that both the stalk and the edge of the cap are on the board like a beach umbrella that’s leaning over. That makes for a stable base for slicing.

I’ll often use a food processor to quickly chop mushrooms if I’m using them as a substitute for mince, but if you want to really save time you in many cases you don’t even need to cut them at all. Mushrooms come in all shapes and sizes so you can buy small ones to fry whole or to use in sauces, or larger bite-sized ones that are great in stews.

Cleaning Mushrooms

You usually won’t need to clean your mushrooms, but if there are a few bits of visible growing medium on there you can just brush it off with a pastry brush. I know a lot of people say not to rinse mushrooms but if you do want to save time, a quick rinse under running water isn’t going to hurt them.

What type of mushroom do you need for which dish?

It can seem like there are a lot of different varieties of mushrooms but often they are the same varieties, just different sizes or colours. Once you know this it can be really convenient to tailor your choice of mushroom to your dish.

Button mushrooms, cups and flats (sometimes also called “field mushrooms”) are different stages of growth of white mushrooms. I often use the buttons whole for frying and adding to stews or curries, the then use the large cups for slicing into a mushroom sauce or soup as they’re easier to hold. Flats or field mushrooms have a stronger flavour and texture so are great for burgers, stuffing and barbecuing.

Swiss brown mushrooms have a lovely tan colour and a slightly firmer texture than button mushrooms so are great for pan frying or in pasta. Portobello mushrooms are a larger stage of growth of the Swiss brown mushroom and their firmer texture and low moisture content make them perfect for roasting or barbecuing.