Chicken of the woods

This year Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus) is popping out of tree trunks in huge numbers. Foraging social media pages are lit up with streams of photographs of these brightly coloured bracket fungus with every one captioned with comments of excitement and delight. And its is easy to understand why.

Chicken of the Woods (COW) is one of the few ‘meaty’ edible fungi. It’s firm texture doesn’t break down with cooking so makes a great meat substitute in vegetarian dishes. It’s flavour is both mushroomy and chicken-like, and is delicious in a range of different recipes from ‘chicken’ nuggets to curries and pies. There is one potential downside with this fungi for some people.

COW has to be cooked well as it causes an upset tummy otherwise. Furthermore, some people are intolerant to Chicken of the Woods and experience horrible stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhoea plus dizziness and hallucinations. With this in mind, it is very important that anyone eating COW for the first time only eats a very small amount of well cooked fungi and then waits to see if they experience any reaction. If you do, then sadly Chicken of the Woods is off the menu for you.

Key identification points:-
  • Bright orange/yellow lobed bracket fungus
  • Upper surface feels velvet like and has bands of bright orange and yellow
  • Pale yellow underneath with tiny pores
  • Lobes are 10-40cm across
  • Grows on a range of trees but most commonly oak
For those who are lucky enough to be able to eat this versatile and delicious edible fungi there are a large range of recipes to choose from. Here is a simple Chicken of the Woods Curry Recipe:-


2 cloves of garlic
1 small onion
500-750g chicken of the woods 
50ml vegetable oil
250ml coconut cream
1 tbsp tomato puree
Large handful of chopped coriander leaves

Spices - 
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper


  1. Clean the Chicken of the Woods making sure any dirt is removed. Snap into into small bite sized chunks throwing away any tough parts.
  2. Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic.
  3. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onion and garlic. Fry for 6-7 minutes until the onions start to soften and become see through. Add the spices and heat through, stirring constantly for 15-20 seconds.
  4. Add the chicken of the woods, and stir thoroughly to ensure that the mushroom pieces are covered in the spices. Cook for about 10 minutes, turning the Chicken of the Woods pieces every now and then to make sure they cook right through.
  5. Add the tomato puree and coconut cream, and stir. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for about 10 minutes. Take the frying pan off the heat and add the coriander leaves. Serve with rice or naan bread.