A wonderland of green vegetables Berlin may not be, but one thing she’s got in spades, especially this time of year, is Pfifferlinge. Petite, fluted, and the color of pale mustard, Pfifferlinge (in English, chanterelle; in French, girolle) are the fungus of fall and seem to find their way onto every menu in town, at least for the few weeks when they’re abundant. Pfifferlinge can cost a small fortune in my home town (San Francisco…but then, so do most fancy mushrooms there) so it’s particularly exciting to pick up a generous basket of mushrooms for just a few euros here in the Hauptstadt.
Pfifferlinge are easy to cook but can be just as easily goofed if you’re not careful. (Tough and chewy mushrooms = not delicious.) They can be fairly dirty — take a small brush (or slightly damp cloth) to wipe off the remnants of the forest. If you don’t get off all the dirt, no worries. Just consider it added “natural” flavor. Trim the ends slightly. Try to avoid dunking or soaking them in water; the mushrooms bloat and get tough.
Just like any delicacy, there’s plenty of ways to cook Pfifferlinge — think light, as the mushrooms offer a delicate flavor and aroma. Anything heavy or overly spiced will overwhelm the Pfifferlinge. The easiest route is this: sautee over medium heat a tablespoon or two of minced shallots or onions in oil, then add your cleaned Pfifferlinge to the pan. Add a splash of dry white wine, and cover briefly to steam. When the liquid’s almost gone, add a dollop of butter and sautée for another minute or two. After this, add them to or over anything — just this weekend I had a simple lollo rosso (that super-curly, reddish lettuce) salad with sautéed Pfifferlinge, and it was perfect. Pfifferlinge play well with light cream sauces, too.