Hello there, mushroom inquirer, mushroom enthusiast, or the reader I’m most excited about: the mushroom hater, welcome! It would be naive to say I’ve lived my whole life without eating a poorly cooked mushroom; you know, the kind that was steamed and unseasoned sitting on your plate rubbery, grey, and sad. Your parents probably made you eat them though because they are supposedly “healthy for you.” But, by the time you ate around the rubbery old thing it was cold and even more unpleasant than it began. After all my bad mushroom experiences, I've compiled 6 steps on how to cook a mushroom. Now all I hope is that I can change your mind about them.

Step 1: Dry clean your mushrooms

The first thing you need to know before you learn how to cook a mushroom is this: don’t get your mushrooms wet. It's as simple as that. If you see dirt, remove it with a dry brush or a slightly dampened kitchen towel. Moisture on the mushroom prevents the possibility of searing. But why do we care about searing? Well, achieving a good sear is the by-product of a chemical reaction called the Maillard reaction. Similar to the caramelization of sugars, the Maillard reaction is a key factor in developing deep flavor. In simpler terms, a better sear equals more flavor. 

Step 2: Fat, fat, fat!

olive oil, herb, tea, oil, rosemary
Jessica Kelly

Sauteing mushrooms is not the time and place for "low fat." Thinly coat the bottom of the pan with high quality oil. If not enough oil is placed in the pan, the mushrooms will soak up the oil and burn quickly.

#spoontip: choose an oil with a high smoke point when cooking at higher temperatures to prevent burning and the release of free radicals which can do damage to the body. 

Step 3: Don’t crowd the pan

mushroom, vegetable
Becky Hughes

I know you’re eager to cook a bunch of mushrooms all at once, but give them their space in the pan! A large skillet will do the trick. Crowding creates moisture development which will lead to steaming instead of the searing that you want.

Step 4: Turn up the heat

saute, mushroom, meat, vegetable
Alex Vu

You might be scared of high heat but trust me it’s necessary in order to get the desired crispness. Mushrooms are like sponges; they contain a lot of water and moisture. If the mushrooms are cooked at low heat they will simmer in their own liquid preventing the browning everyone's talking about. If you turn the heat up to medium high or high heat, the liquid in the mushrooms will evaporate at a quicker rate to prevent steaming.

Step 5: Be patient

This may be the hardest step of all BUT resist the urge to move your mushrooms around in the pan. Just like pancakes, let them turn nice and golden on one side before flipping them over. All the water should be evaporated from the mushroom before removing them from the heat. 

Step 6: Salt after cooking

salt, flour
Bobbi Lin

For all my science nerds, this one’s for you. Just like the process of osmosis in our body's cells, water follows salt to maintain equilibrium. In terms of cooking, when salt is added to the mushrooms during cooking, water in the mushrooms will seep out because the water inside the mushroom is attracted to the salt outside. This, in turn, leads to a steamed mushroom and who wants that?

#spoontip: squeeze some lemon juice on your mushrooms before serving to not only add some flavor but to enhance iron absorption

There you have it. Cooking mushrooms doesn't have to be a  scary task. Getting the perfect sear is as simple as cleaning your mushrooms, adding more oil, turning up the heat, and salting at the end. All you need to know are these 6 simples steps to properly cook a mushroom.