I was walking through the woods behind a permaculture homestead at the Oregon coast when my friend Henry spotted this lobster mushroom, Hypomyces lactiflourum. We took it back to the kitchen, sliced it up and sauteed it — and it was delicious. Like most mushrooms, it takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it in. The texture reminded us of sweet potato tempura: firm yet tender.
Lobster mushrooms are actually two kinds of fungus: a host species and a parasitic invader.
Fortunately, the parasitic fungus that turns its victim into orange-red lobster-colored mushrooms only chooses edible hosts, according to Thom Volk at the University of Wisconsin.