Native to Asia, the shiitake mushrooms It is among the most cultivated mushrooms in the world. Essential in a variety of Asian and vegetarian dishes for their umamai flavor, they have some meaty and smokywhich makes them special. Shiitake are rich in multiple nutrients and have healthy properties.
What are they
Shiitake mushrooms, botanically classified as Lentinula edodes, are a variety of edible mushrooms that are popular in stir-fries, risotto, soups, and other recipes. grown in Japan and China for centuries, pronounced shee-ta-kay, in Japanese; shii is a reference to the type of oak-like tree around which these mushrooms often grow and took is the word for fungus.
They are Asian forest fungi that grow on rotten wooden logs. Also known as Dongo, Shanku, Black Forest mushroom, Shiang-gu, Oak mushroom and Black mushroom. Shiitakes are the third most cultivated mushroom worldwide, behind white button mushroom and oyster mushroom.
Today, cultivated versions of shiitake are cultivated around the world and valued for their chewy and dense texture. They are marketed in a natural (or fresh) state, frozen or, most usually, dehydrated or dried. In this way, its useful life is prolonged and stored in a cool and dry place, its aroma is further enhanced.
Shiitake are distinguished by their brown tops. Small to medium in size with caps averaging 10 to 20 cm in diameter, they are attached by slender stems. The hats vary in color from light brown to dark brown and have a wide umbrella shape with a characteristic curly edge. Inside, the cream-colored meat is firm, chewy, and a little spongy.
Under the cap, the white gills are well arranged, not attached to the stem and depending on maturity, a fine hair can be found covering the gills. The stem is soft, tough and fibrous when bitten and when cooked whole they have a salty, earthy and smoky umami flavor.
Properties and benefits
Shiitake and mushrooms in general are a source of carbohydrates, low in calories and rich in fiber. Packed with vital nutrients according to the USDA, one cup of shiitake mushrooms provides: 81 calories, 88% of which are from carbohydrates, 9% from protein, and 3% from fat.
In terms of its benefits, daily consumption can promote heart healthreduce the risk of prostate cancer and enhance the comprehensive immune system of organisms. This is important when it comes to combating diseases, conditions or ailments.
Mushrooms have also been used as natural remedy in alternative medicine for centuries and this is due to a component called lentinan, a polysaccharide that has antibacterial and antiviral properties.
such is his therapeutic power that act against gingivitis, a dental disease caused by the accumulation of plaque and “bad” bacteria in the mouth. Various studies have shown that shiitake mushroom extract can reduce this harmful bacteria while preserving healthy bacteria.
Finally, its proteins, although moderate, are quite balanced in essential amino acids for the nutritional well-being of the organism. Amino acids are those that cannot be produced by the body and must be provided by food. Considered the building blocks of protein and essential in the human diet, many vegetarians eat shiitake mushrooms meat substitute. Both for their nutritional content and for their salty taste and meaty texture, they are a good source of zinc, for example, which helps reduce the risk of deficiencies.
In the kitchen
Shiitakes have a rich umami flavor and a meaty texture. For this reason, they are best suited for frying, sautéing, boiling, steaming, and grilling. Its texture lends itself to being a substitute in recipes that call for wild mushrooms, for example.
They can be sliced and used in stir-fries, miso soup, vegetarian dashi, stuffed and steamed, cooked in omelettes, mixed into batter, or deep-fried. can also be dry and rehydrate for long-term use or dried and ground into a powder as a flavoring stock for soups, stocks, and sauces.
Shiitake generally pair well with ingredients such as oregano, thyme, cilantro, spinach, mustard greens, eggplant, broccoli, peas and green beans, carrots, bell peppers, corn, potatoes, onion or spring onion, garlic, ginger and poultry. But well, they complement an endless number of ingredients and enrich multiple preparations.
When buying fresh shiitakes, avoid shiitakes that look wrinkled or slimy. In general, it is recommended to store the pieces wrapped in a slightly damp kitchen towel in the fridge until ready to use, keeping for up to a week. To clean each shiitake, pick it up in your hands and gently clean it with a clean kitchen towel or kitchen brushes designed for cleaning delicate foods to remove any remaining dirt, leaves, and soil.
KitchenCraft Rubber and Nylon Wood Mushroom Cleaning Brush, 5.5 x 5.5 cm
For more inspiration, here is a set of recipes where shiitakes shine:
Image | iStock
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