Thais are mad about mushrooms like never before _ whether they're skinny and sylph-like or palm-sized toadstools _ and the reason for the explosion in popularity is only partly to do with their flavour
If we had to name one ingredient whose use has mushroomed most rapidly on the domestic gastronomic scene in recent years, it would definitely have to be the ... ahem ... mushroom.
Perhaps because of the dizzying variety of shapes, shades and textures available, fungi have become household staples and street-side favourites, graduated to specialty status in restaurants and are sometimes even the highlight at well-heeled epicurean events.
Once a low-profile constituent in nondescript dishes _hed fang in kaeng jeud consomme, for instance, or Jew's ear mushroom in phad phak (stir-fried vegetables) _ mushrooms are increasingly perceived by home cooks as a sumptuous source of nourishment, ideal for both children and elderly relatives thanks to their generally mild flavour and soft consistency. As a result, many Thai families have now expanded their culinary horizons to regularly consume relative newcomers like golden needle, eringi and yanagi, alongside more familiar varieties like straw, shiitake and oyster mushrooms.
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