Freaky Fruit: Pom Pom Mushrooms
They looked more like the paws of the polar bear at the Central Park Zoo than they did like mushrooms. The seeming white pods of fur — called pom pom mushrooms — were going for $12 a half a pound at the John Madura Farm stand at the Union Square Greenmarket. The unusual mushrooms are pricey but are said to taste like lobster or crab.
According to the sign at the farm stand, pom pom mushrooms can be sautéed and are great as a garnish or appetizer. They are often used in Chinese cuisine and even more so in Chinese medicine. Chinese healers use the mushrooms to help treat ailments of the stomach and digestive tract, improve liver function and refresh the breath, among other things.
Pom pom mushrooms go by many other colorful common names, including lion’s mane mushrooms, bearded tooth mushrooms and hedgehog mushrooms. Here’s a new name to throw into the ring: how about bear paw mushrooms?