Button mushrooms come in white or brown varieties, but both have a similar flavor and are suitable for frying. Frying in butter or oil brings out the flavor and tender texture of these simple mushrooms. Select firm, dry and blemish-free mushrooms for the best quality and flavor. You can store the mushrooms in a paper bag in the refrigerator for a week or more before you fry them.
Preparing Button Mushrooms
Button mushrooms require only minimal preparation before frying. A quick rinse in water usually removes any dirt clinging to them, but you can scrub gently with a soft towel if you must remove more persistent soil. If you are preparing the button mushrooms whole, select those of similar size. Smaller mushrooms are better suited to frying whole because they cook through more quickly. Any size mushrooms work well if you are slicing them first. Make the slices of equal width so they all cook at the same rate.
Pan-frying, or sauteing, requires minimal fat and cooks the mushrooms quickly. Sliced or small whole mushrooms work best for this method. Cooking fats that impart some flavor but can tolerate medium-high heat in the skillet are better choices. Grapeseed oil works especially well, but you can also use butter if you monitor the temperature closely so it doesn't begin to smoke. Heat the fat over medium-high heat and add the mushrooms. Stir constantly until the mushrooms become tender and lightly browned, which usually takes three to five minutes, depending on the thickness of the mushrooms. You can add salt, pepper or your favorite herbs to the mushrooms as they cook, if you wish.
Breaded and Deep-Fried
Small, whole mushrooms lend themselves well to deep-frying. Deep-fried mushrooms are usually breaded in seasoned flour or breadcrumbs. You can mix salt, pepper, parsley or other dried herbs into the coating. Dip the dry mushrooms into milk or egg to moisten them, and then coat them completely in the breading or flour. Heat 3 inches of vegetable oil in a deep pan over high heat. The oil is ready when a breadcrumb sizzles and browns when dropped into the oil. Submerge the button mushrooms in the oil and fry them until the breading turns golden brown. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels before serving.
Pan-fried mushrooms are a classic topping for steak, chicken and pork. You can add them to stir-fries or saute them with other vegetables, such as onions and peppers, for serving over salads, or in sandwiches, hamburger or wraps. Deep-fried mushrooms are most often served as an appetizer or side dish. Serve them with a dipping sauce, such as ranch or horseradish, or enjoy them plain.