I need to write a book entitled, “100 things I have to thank Spain for” and number 4, would be for introducing me to the simplicity of “Setas al Ajillo” a.k.a sauteed oyster mushrooms with garlic and a little chili pepper. Gambas al ajillo is probably number 7 after that, a.k.a sauteed shrimp with garlic and a little chili pepper.
I am mostly afraid of buying and cooking mushrooms. I give into the sticker shock of how expensive good mushrooms are and the insecurity of not having a lot of experience with them. In Spain, setas al ajillo is a super common dish on restaurant and cafe menus. It always varies slight as do french fries in the US, but they never disappointed.
Most mushrooms are light and airy, especially oyster mushrooms, so you can buy a bunch and not spend a ton of dough. If you mix some eggs into this dish, right in the frying pan, it also extends the dish a little more. You can eat oyster mushrooms with garlic as a side dish or an appetizer on crusty bread. You can sautee up some Spanish Serrano ham or a little Spanish chorizo as well to add yet another delicious dimension to this dish.
VERY IMPORTANT: Don’t be afraid to sprinkle a decent amount of coarse sea salt over the top just before serving. You will thank me. My mouth simply waters in Pavlovian style any time I think Setas al Ajillo.