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  1. @ Tim and Alex: http://www.dphhs.mt.gov/PHSD/Food-consumer/documents/WildMushroomFacts.pdf "Uncooked edible morels also contain small amount of this toxin (MMH)but it is driven off in the process of cooking. MMH may cause cancer" http://www.madaboutmushrooms.com/mad_about_mushrooms/our_hit_parade/ "Remember, like all wild fungi, morels should be cooked thoroughly. Morels, in particular, must never be served raw. Raw morels contain toxins that will sicken almost everyone. Thorough cooking rids them of these toxins and makes them perfectly safe for almost everybody. Even then, be aware that some individuals seem to have a bad reaction to morels, although the reaction may be due to a combination of morels and alcoholic beverages. So, consume only small quantities and not over consecutive days until you are comfortable with the fungus." So, yes raw morels contain poisonous (and carcinogenic) hydrazines, but in much smaller quantity than the (deadly poisonous) false morels. Cooking and/or drying morels (both false and true) reduces the amount of MMH in the mushrooms (although does not completely remove it...http://www.springerlink.com/conten/p247755354n11412/ "After drying in the open air at room temperature for 3 months, as much as 30%-71 % of MMH remained in the fungus.") MMH is alcohol-soluble and drinking alcohol along with morels (which will still contain small amounts of MMH) helps the MMH get into the bloodstream. Some people are more sensitive to the toxin than others (no it's not an allergy) and because the MMH content of morels varies widely it is quite unpredictable what amount of morels and alcohol will cause sickness. Thus it is not recommended to eat large amounts of morels with alcohol, whether you've done it before without harm or not; although you may judge that the pleasure of glass of wine with your morel supper outweighs the small chance that you will have an unpleasant night afterwards. Personally I can eat a plate of well- sauteed morels and have a glass of wine without issues, but once was made violently ill when I ate a risotto at a high-end restaurant containing a generous quantity of very lightly cooked morels (they had only been briefly parboiled before being added to the risotto) along with a glass of Riesling. The restaurant owner was not aware of the risk of serving undercooked morels.
  2. I don't believe it has anything to do with "allergies". The reaction to morels involves toxins in the morels, to which some people are more sensitive than others (ie not allergies). Some people use the word "allergic to" synonymously to "had a bad reaction to". The caution about eating morels with alcohol stands, since the reaction is unpredictable; I know people who have eaten morels with alcohol many times, and then one day, for whatever reason, spend a night doubled over in pain after drinking a glass of red wine with their morel supper. Possibly the amount of toxins or people's reactions vary, but there is little research on it. That article linked to is only one reference...a more common reaction to mixing morels and alcohol is just gastrointestinal distress (ie stomach cramps). Fresh morels are indisputably poisonous, which has nothing to do with allergies. Here in Vancouver a number of years ago a wedding caterer threw a bunch of fresh morels into a salad, resulting in a trip to emergency for most of the wedding party with severe gastrointestinal distress.
  3. I'm sure most people know this, but since it is morel season, just in case: 1) Fresh, raw morels are POISONOUS. They MUST be cooked, and cooked well. 2) They should be cooked at a fairly high heat; ie. saute or fry them till slightly caramelized. A quick simmer may not get rid of their toxins. If you blanch fresh morels, do no use the cooking liquid in stock. If you are going to make a sauce with fresh morels, it is best to fry them first and then put them in the sauce. 3) Some people are more sensitive to morels than others. For instance a sauce made with lots of morels may be fine for some people, but give other people intense gastrointestinal distress (even with dried morels). This is ESPECIALLY SO if served with alcohol. It is not recommended to serve morels with alcohol, whether they are fresh or dried, or to consume large quantities of them. http://www.morelmushroom.info/Cooking_Precautions.html
  4. Unfortunately pretty much all the beaches around Vancouver are closed to clams due to contamination issues. There are plenty on Vancouver Island though (Nanaimo and northwards).
  5. Sung fish co. While they don't have a retail desk, if you call first and ask for Mrs Park you can buy uni when they are processing. They do not process every day. You can get trays of top export quality, trays of second quality, or, if you *really* like uni (like me), a box of bulk seconds (broken pieces, about a kilo!! for $25). That makes a lot of uni cones. You could probably also buy some live ones from them if you are willing to get 10 kg or so. Second on the Kuroshio. One other boat is there very regularly, even in winter; but I think he is selling urchins from a processor so they don't seem quite as fresh as the Kuroshio (spines all broken off). I usually call the Kuroshio to see when he will be there. Ikura is fairly often available from Steveston as well, depending on season. They had chum ikura there a month or so ago.
  6. For any uni lovers, there is now (finally!!) a live urchin boat at Steveston warf. Prices *very* reasonable....$10 for 3 big reds or 5 greens...and he will usually throw an extra or 2 in, especially if late in the day. The uni is in fantastic condition right now...big, firm, sweet pieces, fresh out of the ocean, spines still wiggling. He (Kuroshio boat) seems to be there most Saturdays, perhaps Sundays; he comes out of Victoria. You could always call him at 250 812 1252 to check when he will be there if you are thinking of making the trip. We just made about 10 inari cones and I'm still buzzing.
  7. Anyone know anywhere in Vancouver or Richmond that sells cilantro / coriander WITH THE ROOTS ATTACHED! Everywhere I look these days the roots have been removed, and how can I make good Tom Yum without cilantro roots?
  8. Green Lemongrass is actually now my favourite pho place, which is lucky since I live in Richmond now. Very good broth, just the right amount of vermicelli (I hate pho where you get a bowl of noodles with a little broth thrown in), good quantity of extras (I usually go for the pho tai nam gan sach), and all the rest of the dishes there are top notch as well. And very reasonable $ to boot. Highly recommend. Too bad they don't make sandwiches. Does anyone know a good vietnamese sandwich place in Richmond?
  9. I've taken to deliberately aging potatoes in the refrigerator for a few months. All the information on the 'net says "don't do this..the potato will end up unpleasantly sweet". Au contraire, it seems to me that a couple months refrigerator aging converts a boring, dry, starchy spud into a delectably sweet, texturally firm potato (almost reminiscent of a new potato). Perhaps too sweet for french fries, but fantastic boiled/steamed and served with butter & parsley. Anybody else age their potatoes this way? Or is this just my sweet tooth leading me astray? Jonathan Colvin Vancouver
  10. It's worth checking out Rupert Fish Market at 3202 22ND AVE E (Rupert and Windermere). They have a pretty good selection of fresh and frozen. Nice large frozen squids.
  11. I buy Hamachi and whole frozen squid from them all the time, but they don't have uni in bulk seconds; only the expensive trayed stuff. I think I'm likely out of luck, unless I can find a packer who will sell it to me.
  12. Anyone know where to get bulk uni / sea urchin? Fujiya on Venables *used* to have it every saturday for $2.99/ 100g; a big tray of sea urchin "seconds" (the stuff that was not sushi grade) that you could buy by the tub. It was fantastic for making uni cones or otherwise overindulging in uni. Then for some reason they stopped getting it, and my urchin life has been destitute ever since. Anyone got a tip on where it might be found? A packer perhaps? Jonathan Colvin
  13. Has anyone tried the Dubliner and Coastal cheddar from Costco? I've been very impressed with both these cheeses. The Dubliner has a phenomenal nuttiness to it and makes a fantastic welsh rarebit, while the Coastal is a classic aged cheddar which seems to have a little something special to it; much as I like the bite of Baldersons' aged cheddars, the Coastal has a unique flavour element that I can only describe as "English". And the price on both is very reasonable.
  14. Now I've always found shaggy's rather bland and tasteless. Perhaps it's because I'm comparing them with the large bag of dried morels I still have left over from the spring <grin>. I got 10 lbs from the burn on Galiano. One mushroom I was pleasantly surprised with this year was suilllus (also known as slippery jack). I'd always thought they'd be slimy and tasteless. Not! They grew in huge quantities this year, and if you dry-fry them long enough to get most of the water out, or dry them, they are really good. ps....If you are cooking with fresh morels, be sure to parboil them well first and discard the water, or fry them on a high heat. We got mushroom poisoning (think very bad stomach cramps) this year from a high-end establishment that made a risotto with an overly-generous quantity of fresh morels. The mild simmer in the risotto wasn't enough to take all the gyromitrin toxin out of the morels.
  15. Not for taste; magic mushrooms taste awful. Your taste-buds are telling you quite succinctly that you should NOT be eating these shrooms. Your mind has to over-ride the gut instinct. Best just to make tea. Jonathan Colvin
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