Chantarelle, symbol mushrooms of autumn in Sweden

Golden chantarelles, kantareller, autumn 2009

Chantarelle are prized mushrooms of autumn, where the adventures of plucking a handful of these would make for any dinner conversation, except the revelation of their location.
Photos © Jan-Erik Nilsson and Cheryl Marie Cordeiro for CMC, 2009

Elegantly formed with a smooth capped top and a ridged funnel shaped body, the long stems of the golden Chantarelle proves pleasantly distracting to the eye when seated next to the plumper and more rotund white button mushrooms at the store.

More familiar with Shitake mushrooms when growing up in Singapore, and having grown to dislike its pungent taste in stir-fried noodles, thereby associating all mushrooms with pungent tastes, I grew up never really caring for mushrooms, until I was introduced to kantareller in Sweden.

Svenska kantareller, chantarelle, creamy stew

Chantarelle stir-fried in cream.

Nutty. That’s what they smell like. On top of that note, you’ll also smell the wet leaves of the forest in autumn, the environment in which the mushrooms grow. And if you had to go by smell alone, then I’d say that the Chantarelle is not much to go by, compared to what it tastes like – heavenly – after cooking it in a little bit of butter and cream.

Kantareller, dry fry Chantarelles

Chantarelle, dry fried.

There are several ways to prepare Chantarelle, my favourite being cooking them just until they turn soft, in butter and cream, with a pinch of salt and pepper. I find this version goes well with red meats, perhaps even pork, but they complement venison and steaks better.

Then there’s a dry frying method, where one could cook chantarelle in oil with a pinch of salt and pepper to it. With these, you can pack them in little portions, freeze them and use them whenever you want / need in the near future. The dry fried chantarelle can also be strewn over salad leaves or mixed into a salad of your choice.

Kantarell soup, Chantarelle soup

Chantarelle soup, based on whipped cream and a touch of white pepper.

This Chantarelle soup was made from a base of whipped cream, butter and a touch of white pepper. In our kitchen, we hardly do anything fancier with Chantarelle because we prefer to bring out the flavour of the mushroom itself in the cooking. Being Singaporean, I couldn’t help but throw in a few slices of red chilli as garnish to the soup! They added a hint of spiciness to the overall flavour of the soup and a dash of colour for eye candy when serving.

Svenska kantareller, chantarelles, stewed

Chantarelle in cream, served as a side dish to the main pork roast with carrots .

People in Sweden can be very passionate about their kantareller, where a basketful of handplucked Chantarelle would make for very animated dinner conversations. Friends and neighbours would tell about how they got to them, walking through the deepest forest, the farthest corner and covering the most trecherous of slippery leaves to get there. But the open nature of sharing information with Swedes stops there, and they would never reveal the place of their Chantarelle findings.

So where can you find these golden delights, waiting to be plucked?

“We found them in a forest up north, a little bit farther than the city.”

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