Culture / Restaurants

A Once Showy Houston Restaurant Finds Its Food Footing

The Power of Mushrooms

BY // 05.16.16

One can cook mushrooms in myriad ways: steam them, sauté them, bake them, or grill them. (Or eat them raw — not my favorite way, but it’s an option.) I recently sautéd some morels and served them with a cognac cream sauce, and they were delicious.

Mushrooms are often used as accompaniments, a few added to a steak dish, perhaps, or mixed in with tomato sauce for a pasta. There are times, however, when mushrooms deserve star billing — and when you want that, they must be prepared well. If over-seasoned, overcooked, or undercooked, they do no one any good. One evening this past week I ordered a dish that got it just right. It was at Kuu, and it was rich, full of umami — three types of mushroom saw to that —and crisp, perfectly blanched asparagus, all in coconut milk.

The restaurant, helmed by Chef Addison Lee, makes the dish with mushroom broth and enoki, oyster, and maitake mushrooms, plus those wonderful, crisp asparagus spears. The flavors mingle and surprise, and the varying textures and richness of the coconut milk make this a satisfying course. I shared it with a dining companion; it came to the table after a bowl of rock shrimp tempura (another item on the Kuu menu that I recommend you try), and our chopsticks were the ideal instruments to extract the mushrooms from the shallow serving dish. You’ll appreciate the spoon that comes with it, however, because the broth and coconut milk is worth the price alone.

I have dined at Kuu on several occasions, and at times have felt that more attention was being put on aesthetics than taste and flavor, but not this time. Our courses were pleasing to look at — a steel serving dish nestled on hay, for instance — and they tasted even better.

Lee seems to have his kitchen firing on all cylinders now, so perhaps there are some mushrooms in your future.

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