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Shark with Mushroom Sauce

leopard shark with wild mushroom sauce

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

I happen to like the combination of mushrooms and seafood, and this shark recipe has it in spades: I use a combination of dried wild mushrooms, cooked with tomato, to make a rich mushroom sauce that goes surprisingly well with a piece of firm fish, such as shark.

Shark, you say? Yep, I caught some leopard sharks in the San Francisco Bay and they are delicious. If you can’t get leopard shark, use dogfish or another small shark. If you are not into eating sharks, you can use any firm, white fish — tilefish, sturgeon, tautog, white seabass, etc.

The measurement of the mushrooms is loose. I just grab some from my jars at home, but the amount roughly corresponds to the little packages of dried mushrooms you see in the supermarket.

Serve this dish with a light red wine or a dry rose.

Serves 4

  • 2 pounds skinless fillets of shark, sturgeon, tilefish, tautog, white seabass or other firm, white fish
  • Salt
  • Flour for dusting
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 handfuls dried mixed mushrooms, such as chanterelles, shiitake, porcini or morels (about 3 small packages)
  • 1 diced shallot
  • 1 cup tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Fresh oregano or thyme to garnish


  1. Cover the mushrooms with about 2 cups of boiling water, cover and set aside for 1-2 hours. It does not matter what mushrooms you use, so long as it is a variety, and that they include at least 1 of the following: morels, porcini or chanterelles. Only use dried mushrooms for this recipe.
  2. When the mushrooms are almost done soaking, cut the shark or other fish into neat squares or rectangles. You can use the trim for stock, or in a stew. Salt the fish well and set aside.
  3. Retrieve the mushrooms from the water and squeeze to get a bit more moisture out. Let the mushroom water settle a minute or two, then gently pour out 1 cup of the water. Discard the rest, which will likely have dirt and debris in it.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Saute the shallot for 1-2 minutes, then add the mushrooms. Toss and cook for 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle some salt over them as they cook.
  5. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the mushrooms. Let this cook 1 minute, then add the tomato sauce and the 1 cup of mushroom water. Bring this to a simmer, taste for salt and add if needed, then let it simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  6. Heat the remaining olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat.
  7. Toss the garlic and parsley into the mushroom sauce and stir to combine.
  8. Dust the shark pieces in the flour and saute in the olive oil. A 1-inch thick piece of fish will need 5-6 minutes on one side, then 3-4 minutes on the other. You might need to drop the heat to medium if the fish is cooking too fast. You want a steady fry, nothing too energetic.
  9. As the shark is cooking, pour the mushroom sauce into a blender or food processor and buzz to combine. You want a thick sauce, but if it is too thick add a little water. Return it to the pot and keep it warm.
  10. To complete the dish, pour some of the mushoom sauce on the plate and top with the crispy shark. Garnish with a sprig of oregano or thyme.

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