A delicious Autumn mushroom, Amanita calyptrata (Coccora to the Italians) resembles most other edible Amanita in texture, smell and taste. It has a distinct fishy odor, a soft texture upon cooking, and a nutty flavor. It grows quite large (those shown here ranged from 5" to 8" tall) under tanoak and live oak in the California coastal mountains. The cap is light yellowish brown (never greenish), with a solid patch of veil remnant on the top. The volva is thick and sac-like, often over two inches tall. Like other Amanita, the gills and flesh are white. Mature specimens often have a hollow stem with pithy cotton filling. I have found it growing near Boletus satanis and Pleurotis ostreatus after the early rains. As with any mushroom, be absolutely sure of your identification before eating it, as this mushroom is closely related to several species that can kill you. The descriptions you'll find on this website are not sufficient for identification. (This is only a cookbook, after all!)
You can use the coccora anywhere that you might use Amanita velosa, A. ceasarea, A. pachycholia, or A. vaginata.As with these others, the fishy smell fades upon cooking. I must admit, however, that I prefer the flavor of this mushroom after it has been dried. For some reason, the drying process brings out its nutty qualities, and improves its texture. Dried coccora work especially well in cream sauces like béchamel, where the subtle flavors do not become overpowered.