Today we're going to look at a food that is neither plant nor animal: the edible mushroom. Maybe you even know Japanese mushrooms like Reishi, Maitake or Matsutake? Or the often used small white mushroom enoki? But this is about a different and particularly well-known mushroom from Japan: The shiitake from the omphalotaceae family. Although the mushroom grows in natural surroundings on trees all year round, the shiitakes that can be bought often come from farms that grow the mushrooms in greenhouses.
The originThe shiitake mushroom has been known to humans for thousands of years. “Take“ means mushroom in Japanese and “shii“ stands for: which grows on the pasania tree. The pasania tree is a so-called false chestnut. But shiitake is not only popular and well-known in Japan. Especially in China and South Korea, the delicious mushroom is used in many ways. The shiitake is also used as a medicinal mushroom and eaten, for example, against inflammation or pain.
Appearance, consistency and taste
Shiitake mushrooms have light-coloured lamellae and a brown cap that is often slightly patterned. They grow on the trunks of many hard wood species. When fresh - and even more so when dried - the mushroom smells very intense and pleasant. The flesh is firm and juicy. In the raw state the mushrooms should not be eaten, but freshly fried they still contain a lot of protein, different vitamins and trace elements.
Use in cooking
Shiitake mushrooms can be eaten as a meal on their own. However, the mushrooms are often used as a hearty garnish for vegetable and rice dishes or as a basic ingredient for sauces and broths. Fresh mushrooms are not washed, but only cleaned dry, otherwise they soak up water and lose their flavour. Spices and salt are only added to the pan at the end of roasting or cooking. With dried mushrooms, it is important that they have been soaked well in lukewarm water. It is best to change the water once so that any dirt residue can be removed. Soaking should take at least one hour and depends on the size of the mushrooms. Afterwards, if necessary, the mushrooms can be cut into small pieces and used for cooking.
MYCONBINI tip: If you like the umami mushroom taste as much as we do, try the dried Donko Shiitake!