Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Food from the forest 3: Wild Mushroom Picking in Estonia - Mushroom Schnitzel

Pine forest in South Estonia

Back in the forest! Every autumn (and late summer) there are people in Estonia waiting impatiently for the peak season. The feeling is totally comparable to the feeling that people in Switzerland experience for the ski season.  The weather conditions are being discussed at length, the prospect of the season, any issues and successes shared with friends and family.

The national sport of picking wild mushrooms is part of the culinary year that culminates in September. The mushroom season gets a fair portion of media coverage in the newspapers and national TV through interviews with mushroom experts, commentary from the national forestry office, numerous new mushroom recipes get published, even the weather man in the morning wake up program started his weather talk about how he spent the weekend picking mushrooms and showed a couple of proof photos. Lots of fun and a topic that always guarantees a good feeling, even in a poor crop year that leaves you with a story about how someone walked around for hours and came home with 3 mushrooms to tell in the following year , khmm, I mean years...

2012 is a year of plenty in volume and in diversity of different kinds of mushrooms.

Rosites caperata (Lat.), Kitsemamplid (Est.)

Young Kitsemampel
One of them is called "Kitsemampel" in Estonian, its Latin name is Rosites caperata. The name is made of two parts: the first - kitse - means a goat's, the second - mampel - is a type of mushroom, (my current knowledge does not know how to translate this). Perhaps goats liked this type of mushrooms too.
Some mushrooms can be eaten simply sautéed like chanterelles or champignons or kitsemampels, others require pre-cooking in boiling water. Kitsemampel suits well for "schnitzel" or escalope.

Large Kitsemampel is good for schnitzel

Mushroom schnitzel
Ingredients for 2-3 portions

8 Bigger size flat shape mushrooms, Kitsemampel is a classic for this dish
1 large egg
0.5-1dl milk
0.5 cup plain flour
frying oil (eg rape seed)

Lightly beat the egg with milk.
Clean the mushrooms from debris and sprinkle with salt and pepper and leave for ca 20 minutes. This brings out some liquid and that is useful to stick the flour to the surface. So, pat the mushrooms in the flour on a plate and then dip them through the egg mixture.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and place the mushrooms on the pan. Fry on medium heat until the mushrooms soften and the "schnitzel" takes on a nice golden colour, ca. 10-15 minutes. The frying time depends on the size of the mushrooms.

Serve with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, with sauteed potatoes or other vegetables or as a burger in a fresh bun.

Schnitzel from Kitsemampel mushrooms

More stories on Food from the Forest:
Estonian mushroom salad, spinach & chanterelle soup, Estonian mushroom burgers
Wild blueberry & ricotta cake, wild blueberry & banana smoothie
Wild blueberry soup with fluffy semolina dessert
Estonian cranberry dessert - pink semolina