Elwood 5566

Monday Market – King Oyster Mushroom – 새송이 버섯

Posted in plants and trees, Technology, video clips by 노강호 on February 10, 2011

oyster mushrooms growing wild – difficult to find, easy to cultivate

In Britain, we tend to have both mushrooms and toadstools. ‘Toadstools’ is a term, though not exclusive in its use, to describe those cap bearing ‘mushrooms’ which are inedible or poisonous. Unfortunately, many toadstools are indeed edible and there are a number of examples I am competent enough to pick and eat. One of my favourites, which grows and is eaten in Korea, is the parasol mushroom (갓 버섯 – lepioptera procera). In England, this wonderful mushroom is prolific but few people pick it and it is unavailable in shops.

young parasol mushroom – unmistakable

Koreans, like many other European countries, are much more adventurous in their culinary and medicinal use of fungi and a wide range of exotic mushrooms are available. The king oyster  mushroom (새송이 버섯 – pleurotus eryngii) is common  in markets and supermarkets and is also known in Britain as the king trumpet mushroom or French horn mushroom. In Korea it is a common ingredient in stews and a favourite skewered between meat and onion. Though not particularly flavoursome, when cooked it has a meaty, abalone-like texture. Though difficult to find, as they often grow under forest ‘debris,’ they are easy to cultivate.

an oyster mushroom farm

Baby oysters are excellent in soups and stew and freeze easily

Korea is one of the leading producers of  the king oyster mushroom and grown in temperature controlled environments with air cleaning, water de-ionizing and automated systems,  farming is high-tech.  One of the most successful producers is Kim Geum-hee who now owns six high-tech farms producing over 5 tons of mushroom daily.

Kim Geum-hee a pioneer in the art of mushroom farming

Kim Geum-hee is an adorable character and one of Korea’s outstanding agriculturalists. I fell in love with her personality after just one video  partly because the added translations are a little ‘studenty’ but ironically enhance the videos imbuing  them with an enchanting cuteness.


“Photo by Catie Baumer Schwalb, pitchforkdiaries.com, used with permission.”

The videos about her success are interesting and well worth watching. ‘Kim Geum-hee ‘had a dream about mushroom,’ and later, ‘after graduating fell in love with mushroom.’ Oh, dear, I have bad thoughts.  When I see a room full of cap-type mushrooms I can’t help being reminded of penises. I’m sure many other westerners would have the same response and besides, the stinkhorn’s botanical name is phallus impudicus and before it  was biological classified it was known as, ‘fungus virilis penis effige‘ ( Gerard, 1597).  It’s not just me! You can poke a Korean in the eye with even the most phallic of fungi, of which there are a number of amazing varieties, and not the slightest link will be made to a penis. To Koreans that offensive fungi is simply a mushroom!

There are some excellent ways to use the king oyster mushroom:

Pitchfork Diaries


Vegan and Korean

Creative Commons License

© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.


7 Responses

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  1. Breda said, on February 11, 2011 at 2:53 am

    My exboyfriend would only eat the tops! It seemed strange because I can’t tell the difference in taste between the tops and stems, if that’s what you call it for mushrooms. It’s all delicious to me!

    • Nick said, on February 11, 2011 at 2:01 pm

      Maybe its the texture he prefers. On some mushrooms I think the stem is firmer. Maybe he’s just a fuss pot! Thanks

  2. Simon said, on February 11, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I had no freaking idea mushrooms were grown in jars like that. I had an idyllic view of them growing in the wild, and people picking them. Hell. Totally shattered my worldview. Thanks for that.

    • Nick said, on February 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm

      My God, a response from a mega blogger. I prostrate myself. Thanks for the comment. Yes, I too imagined them being naturally harvested which in retrospect is dumb considering how rarely you see them and the fact they generally only appear in autumn and fall. I was surprised how technological and sanitized it is. I thought the videos brilliant – especially the translations.

      • Simon said, on February 15, 2011 at 3:37 am

        What’s a mega blogger? I just came here looking for oyster mushrooms 😀

  3. Nick said, on May 6, 2011 at 12:32 am

    Catie, the mentioned photo has been removed and I have forwarded you an e-mail. Thanks.

  4. Binh Minh Pham said, on November 11, 2013 at 6:32 am

    How can I order the King Oyster Mushroom from the Kim Geum-hee’s farm?

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