Chanterelle mushrooms in Thailand

Thai chanterelles, or more specifically Cantharellus minor live in symbiosis with Gurjun trees (Diopterocarpus tuberculatus) in semi-deciduous Southeast-Asian forests. These trees are easy to identify due to their double-winged (dio-ptero) fruits with big seeds. Besides Cantharellus minor, other species of chanterelle mushrooms are native to Southeast-Asian forests. All of them are fragrant and tasty and differ mainly in size and shape.

Where to find and get chanterelles in Thailand

Areas under Diopterocarpus trees are getting often burned for agricultural purposes in northern Thailand and the mushroom mycelium normally survives the fires, as the heat is not intense enough to kill it off. As long as the mycelium is not getting plowed up, it will stay alive despite slash-and-burn techniques.

The Thai people call chanterelles ‘Hed Kamin’, which means ‘turmeric mushroom’, due to their yellow color reminding of turmeric roots. This unique color in a mushroom makes it easy to keep chanterelle mushrooms apart from inedible or poisonous ones. They are often sold on wet markets in Thailand by forest product dealers, but also tribal people collect them in the forests, drive on motorcycles to regional towns, and sell chanterelles and other edible mushrooms directly somewhere at shaded walkways.

Commercial value of chanterelles

In 2021 Thailand exported chanterelles for a value of about 450k USD and imported such for 30k USD. From these figures, it can be seen that chanterelles have no real commercial importance for the country but are mainly consumed on the local market and by connoisseurs.

Properties of chanterelles

Chanterelles are one of the richest sources known of vitamin D, but also high in copper, potassium, and vitamin C. Calorific value is only about 32 kcal/100g. Chanterelles are said to have potent insecticidal properties, which are harmless to humans but protect the mushrooms against insects and other potentially harmful organisms.

They taste best (in my personal opinion) by just frying them with onion, garlic, and thyme until most of the water is gone, thickening it up into a sauce, and eating them with plain rice.

Lessons learned by chanterelles in Thailand:

  • Chanterelles like to grow under big rainforest trees, like Diopterocarpus tuberculatus
  • Cantharellus minor is a smaller and slimmer version of C. cibarius and is more fragrant than the latter one
  • Chanterelles are mainly available in smaller towns upcountry, located at nearby forests.

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