Fried-chicken Mushroom
(Lyophyllum decastes)
Roasted Chicken
Fried-chicken Mushroom sculpture

Fried-chicken Mushroom

sculpture, acrylic paint

The fried chicken mushroom is completely different from the chicken mushroom, and it doesn't even taste like fried chicken (at least, not to me). Its cap, which measures 1 to 5 inches across, is convex to almost flat, beige to yellow brown to grayish, with a margin that is in-curved at first, then upturned as the mushroom ages.

Fried-chicken Mushroom

Fried-chicken Mushroom

Note the crowded gills.

The broad, whitish gills attach or sometimes slightly descend the stalk.

Fried-chicken Mushroom, side view

Fried-chicken Mushrooms, side view

Note how these mushrooms grow in clusters.

The spore print is white. The whitish stalk is 2 to 4 inches long, 1/4 to 3/4 inch wide.

You can find shopping bags full of this mushroom anywhere in America, spring and fall (sometimes in the summer), growing on the ground in grassy areas or overgrown places and on disturbed soil, where the fungus decomposes organic material.

Fried-chicken Mushrooms, from above

Fried-chicken Mushrooms, from above

Note the convex caps of these young specimens, as compared to the upturned cap of the older specimen in the sculpture, above.

Fried chicken mushroom is considered second-rate, and it is when you sauté it with onions and garlic. But Asian cooks consider it first-rate because that's how it tastes when they use it correctly—in soups, stew, and sauces. Its sweet flavor, chewy texture, and slight okra-like thickening effect make it perfect for such dishes. This mushroom cooks in 15 to 20 minutes. Because you can find it in such large quantities, it's often worthwhile to use the caps and stems separately, adding the caps to your best recipes, and keeping the stems for dishes you're going to purée.
Fried Chicken Mushroom Drawing

Fried-chicken Mushroom Cluster

pen-and-ink drawing