Long a symbol of longevity in Asia because of their health-promoting properties, shiitake mushrooms have been used medicinally by the Chinese for more than 6,000 years. These exotic fungi are now readily available, fresh or dried, in markets all around the country. Their unmistakable umami flavor makes everything they are added to taste more interesting. High levels of the amino acid glutamate give them their unique meaty, smoky, potent taste.
Good For You
Shiitake mushrooms are high in B vitamins—they are an excellent of pantothenic acid, a very good source of vitamin B2, as well as vitamin B6, niacin, choline and folate. Additionally, they are concentrated in minerals including selenium, copper, zinc, and manganese. They are also a good source of vitamin D (in the D2 form) and dietary fiber. Some shiitake health benefits include its ability to aid weight loss, support cardiovascular health, fight cancer cells, improve energy levels and brain function, reduce inflammation, and support the immune system.
Shiitake mushrooms can be one of the most sustainable foods in your diet! While the majority of shiitake mushrooms produced worldwide have been grown on sawdust block in a non-natural setting, it is fully possible for shiitake mushrooms to be produced on natural hardwood logs in a forest setting. Unlike other mushrooms, which grow in soil, shiitake mushrooms are cleaner because they grow on logs and only need to be gently brushed or wiped with a dry paper towel before cooking.
Fresh or Dry?
You can use either fresh or dry depending on what’s easily available. The dried ones actually deliver a richer, more intense flavor. They are very easy to rehydrate by soaking in boiling water (removed from the heat) for 30 minutes. Pat dry and use as you would fresh ones, and keep the soaking water as it makes a delicious base for soups.
A quick, easy and deliciously different Shiitake Parmesan Salt
Makes ½ cup
3oz. sliced shiitake mushroom caps
¼ cup kosher salt
2Tbs grated Parmesan cheese
1tsp chopped fresh rosemary
Heat oven to 250 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake the sliced shiitake mushrooms until brittle, about an hour and a half. In a food processor, pulse all the ingredients for a minute until finely ground. Sprinkle over buttered popcorn.