Aimless shopping leads to meaty mushrooms



In this second instalment of monthly guest posts with Emily Wight of well fed, flat broke, the author and food blogger visits Main St. Station Market to see how far $20 can stretch at the farmers markets. The results may surprise you…

Aimless shopping leads to meaty mushrooms

by Emily Wight

I popped into the Main Street market this past week with a twenty-dollar bill and no plans, and managed to find enough to feed my family of three fresh produce over four dinners (plus enough leftovers for a couple of work lunches), and I treated myself to a little basket of raspberries.

asian_greensSo what does $20 get you these days? PLENTY. I took home raspberries, a bundle of garlic scapes, a large, crisp bok choy, some watercress, half a pound of oyster mushrooms, and about a pound of yu choy. I stir-fried the scapes and mushrooms (recipe below), chopped the bok choy into a big batch of kimchi fried rice, turned the watercress into soup, and steamed the yu choy – a highly underrated, vitamin-packed green vegetable that’s a bit like spinach and a bit like broccoli – with a bit of garlic and chili paste.

Watercress is another one of those nutrient-dense leafy greens you should try to eat more of – while you can eat watercress raw in salads or cream cheese sandwiches, it plays nicely with a little wine and cream when blended into soup. Look for it at the market this week!

watercressI lied a little up top. There was one thing I wanted, and fully intended to buy (and make excuses for, if it was expensive, but it wasn’t): garlic scapes. Garlic scapes have been trendy for a couple of years, but they are the kind of thing that a lot of people still don’t quite know what to do with. Garlic scapes are the curly green stalk that shoots up as garlic grows. It’s fully edible, though many gardeners toss them right into the compost without ever tasting them. They taste like garlicky scallions, and if you pickle them there’s no better garnish for a dirty martini. I make a bread that’s crammed full of them (and cheese), and there are never leftovers; you can also turn them into pesto (and freeze it for later, if you need to).

And I was on my way to snoop around for garlic scapes when Heidi at Coast Mushrooms caught my eye and called me over to her stand. She was selling oyster mushrooms and dried morels, and the oyster mushrooms were so fresh and firm that it was impossible to pass them up. The great thing about oyster mushrooms is that they are very meaty; in fact, when you tear them into strips and stir-fry them, it’s hard to tell on sight that they’re not pork or chicken. My four-year-old couldn’t tell, and he has told me six times this week that he doesn’t like mushrooms.

coast_mushThis is the nice thing about not having a plan – you meet some nice people, learn about their mushroom farm, and maybe dupe your kids into trying something new. Success, any way you look at it.

The recipe that follows will serve four people if a couple of them are kids; if you’re feeding more adults, you may want to add a sliced bell pepper or a half pound of carrots or snap peas to stretch the dish a bit further. If you’re serving vegans, use maple syrup or granulated sugar instead of honey. Serve with sambal oelek or other hot sauce, over rice or egg noodles.

Garlic scape and oyster mushroom stir-fry


(Makes 2 to 4 servings.)


  • ¼ cup (60mL) soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. sherry vinegar*
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • Salt, to taste



  • 1 tbsp. grapeseed or canola oil
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ lb. (225g) oyster mushrooms, torn into strips
  • ¼ tsp. coarse salt
  • ½ lb. (225g) garlic scapes, trimmed and cut into two-inch (5cm) pieces
  • ½ lb. (225g) celery, chopped
  • 1 minced scallion
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds (optional)

In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, honey, sherry vinegar, sesame oil, and pepper. In a separate small bowl, whisk cornstarch with about two tablespoons of cold water to form a slurry; whisk this slurry into the soy sauce mixture and set aside.

Heat oil in a large pan set over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, and let them sit for two minutes until they have begun to brown and release their liquid. Sprinkle the mushrooms with salt, and cover. Reduce heat to medium, and cook for four minutes.

Add garlic scapes to the pan stir gently, then re-cover and cook for another three minutes.

Remove the lid, then add the celery to the pan, cooking for an additional two to three minutes, until celery brightens. Test a piece of garlic scape for doneness – it should be tender-crisp to the bite. If it’s not quite there, keep cooking for another one to two minutes.

Add the sauce, stirring to coat for about a minute, until sauce thickens and reduces slightly.

Spoon onto a serving plate, and sprinkle with minced scallion and sesame seeds.

*Sherry vinegar is available at specialty stores; I get mine at Gourmet Warehouse for about $6.00. A little goes a long way, but it’s great in vinaigrettes, and to liven up soups and stews. If you can’t find it, use rice vinegar.