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Shiitake Mushroom

Shiitake Mushroom

Description

China and Japan have been raising Shiitakes on rotting logs for thousands of years.  These mushrooms range in color from tan to dark brown with broad, umbrella shaped caps.  Shiitakes are soft and somewhat spongy.  When cooked, they have a garlic-pine aroma and have a rich, earthy, umami flavor with a meaty, slightly chewy texture.

Applications/Techniques

Shiitake mushrooms are widely used in Asian cuisine. They are not limited to Asian recipes and although they are a cultivated variety, they may be substituted in recipes calling for "wild mushrooms".

History

Mushrooms are a huge group of edible fungi that are grown, picked and eaten in almost every country around the world.  Mushrooms come to us as cultivated, grown in some manner by man, or, as wild, originating in wooded forests. Interestingly enough, cultivated mushrooms do not grow in the wild and wild mushrooms have yet to be successfully cultivated by man.

There are over 300 varieties of cultivated mushrooms available in the market.  These mushrooms are raised primarily indoors in a controlled environment using pasteurized compost in conditions that duplicate damp mornings.  Cultivated mushrooms take 3-6 weeks to grow and are then picked by hand.  The price of cultivated mushrooms can remain relatively stable during the course of the year.  Prices fluctuate due to labor costs and an increase in cost of the growing medium and, on occasion, due to extreme weather conditions-hot or cold- that may effect the environment in the buildings used to grow cultivated mushrooms.  Some cultivated mushrooms may be eaten raw.  As a rule, the smaller, pale and less open the mushrooms are, the more delicate and subtle the flavor-white mushrooms, crimini and enoki mushrooms fall into this category.  Mushrooms that are larger, dark and with open gills-Oyster, Shiitake and Portabella-have more intense flavor and should be cooked to bring out that flavor

Flavor Friends

  • Asparagus
  • Bacon
  • Butter
  • cabbage, Savoy
  • Chicken
  • Chile
  • Fish Sauce
  • Lemongrass
  • Mustard Greens
  • Noodles
  • Onions
  • Pork
  • Rice, basmati
  • Soy sauce
  • Spinach

 

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