Firm meaty and earthy, shiitake mushrooms bring a wonderful texture and flavor to a variety of dishes.
What are they?
First cultivated in Southeast Asia as far back as the 1200s, shiitake mushrooms are now a culinary favorite in the region. The popularity of shiitakes has spread throughout the world and they are now the third most grown and consumed mushrooms worldwide. Shiitakes are often sold fresh but are also available dried.
Shiitake are often more expensive than other mushrooms, largely due to the cultivation process. They are grown on the decaying logs of specific deciduous trees. The harvesting process is time-consuming and as a result they are more expensive.
Shiitake mushrooms are graded by quality with donko (winter mushroom) huāgū (flower mushroom) being the two highest grades.
Flavor and texture
Shiitake mushrooms have a firm texture and can be fairly chewy if not cooked correctly. The mushrooms have a strong meaty taste and an earthy quality. Because of the way they are processed, dried shiitakes have a stronger, more concentrated flavor than the fresh equivalents.
How to use them
Umami-rich shiitake mushrooms are a common ingredient in East Asian cuisine and are often used to make miso soup and some types of dashi. If you would like to experiment with shiitake mushrooms, be sure to try our recipes for Thai Coconut Chicken Curry, Vegan Mapo Tofu, and Bibimbap-Style Rice Bowls with Spicy Tofu.