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When pan frying sliced regular white mushrooms, I prefer to cook them on high-heat with a generous amount of EVO until they shrivel up quite a bit and become golden brown in color. This is opposed as opposed to cooking them with less heat for a shorter duration to the point where they do not change in size and only darken slightly, or not at all.

I find that mushrooms cooked to this lesser degree have a distinctive taste and smell (that some dislike very much), yet when raw or cooked to the degree in which I first described, they do not contain this smell or taste.

My question: What is the reason for this? Perhaps there is some sort of chemical responsible for the change in taste (similar to the idea of raw garlic versus well cooked or roasted garlic).

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Don't cook with EVO, you are wasting the aromatics as the are destroyed by the heat, Just use plain olive oil, or other suitable bland cooking oil –  TFD Aug 24 '13 at 6:54

2 Answers 2

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I can't speak to specific chemicals/aromatics for mushrooms, but this kind of thing does happen with all kinds of food. The initial cooking is releasing aromatics that were previously bound up in the food somehow, so you quickly get some stronger flavors. But aromatic molecules are volatile (that's why you smell them!) and also generally more prone to breaking down, so as you cook longer, they escape, or are broken down into something else without so much flavor, leaving you with something milder.

Think about onion, for example. When you first start sauteeing it, there's a lot of really strong onion smell coming off, maybe even enough to make you cry if you're prone to it. If you eat it then, it'll still have plenty of sharp onion flavor. But as you cook longer, those flavors mellow out; going to the extreme, slowly caramelized onions have no sharpness and very little onion flavor.

I think the initial strengthening of flavor may be stronger with mushrooms because of their structure. They seem dry at first, with all the water bound up inside. But as you start to cook them, their structure breaks down and they quickly release a lot of water, and with it, those flavors.

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Simple, the juices. When cooked in the EVO the juices will mix with the EVO longer and thus create a more bland flavoring then if you keep the mushrooms in for a shorter amount of time.

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