They might look like alien invaders, but these exotics -- springing up at most supermarkets -- have some seriously earthy flavor.


1. Hen of the Woods 

Try them in Tomato sauce

Yes, there's poultry in the title. But tawny hen of the woods (also called maitake) taste big-time beefy. Try a mushroom "meat sauce" atop pasta, or spoon caramelized, chopped 'shrooms and onions onto steak.

2. Morels 

Try them in spicy sauces and stews

May is prime time for morels, the Clark Kent of mushrooms. They look fragile but taste robust and meaty. Chefs say their powerful flavor can stand up to heat, strong spices and slow cooking. Their spongy caps soak up whatever you toss them in. 

3. Enoki 

Try them in Soups

Small and pale, with skinny stems and barely-there heads, these Asian tree mushrooms taste as delicate as they look. They cook quickly in liquid without getting chewy -- perfect for tossing in at the end of brothy soups.

4. Chanterelles 

Try them on Crostini

These stylish fungi are subtle in flavor, with a mild sweetness and slight peppery afterkick, so they make a great breakfast or first course (they cook up as quickly as scrambled eggs). Sauté a handful and pile them on sourdough toast with fresh herbs and nutmeg.

5. Oyster 

Try them in Creamy dishes

They look like oysters, they taste like oysters -- well, kinda. Equally silvery and stylish, these broad-capped mushrooms taste briny and have a silky texture. Their creaminess works well in coconut- or milk-based curries and sauces, too.