Its aroma is deep, with notes of earth, caramel and nutmeg. Its flavour falls into the category of umami; It has, therefore, something meaty and smoky.
Fresh shiitakes are preferable. Once cooked, they are softer and more delicate than dry ones, with acidic and savoury notes.
To cook, dried shitakes should be soaked in lukewarm water overnight or at least 5-6 hours before use.
If they are going to be added to a soup or stew, they can be incorporated as-is, but taking into account that they will have to be cooked much more. And even so, they will always be somewhat harder than fresh ones.
Once hydrated, like fresh ones, the foot, which is very fibrous, must be removed. They can then be cooked whole, quartered or sliced.
If they are grated, they can be used without soaking.
With shiitake, practically all cooking methods can be applied:
Steamed, they are fragrant and delicate.
Sautéed, with just enough heat to bring out its flavour, they give their best.
Fried, they increase their power on the palate as well as roasts.
Stews or stews are integrated into the set with a personal touch.
In mycophila Russia, shitakes are eaten in vinaigrettes, soups, stewed with sour cream and vegetables, in patties and cooked.
Its texture is slightly rubbery but tender and juicy. It adapts to almost any recipe, although in dry dishes such as sauteed, fried or roasted, it should not be overcooked as it decreases and remains dry.
It gives excellent results in the dough for croquettes, hamburgers, breaded or schnitzel. Its texture and flavour combined with soy sauce, cereals or tofu give very tasty results, for some similar to soft meats.
Purchase and conservation
Shitakes, in general, should be chosen small, with a hat of uniform colour or light spots, but never with bruises, pitting or strange colours.
What mushrooms are better for what?
Josefina Llargués tells us that, “although until a few decades ago, the properties of medicinal mushrooms were unknown in the West, gastronomy and the pharmacopeia of traditional Chinese medicine have used food for centuries as remedies to prevent or treat diseases.”
In this sense, according to Llargués, “shiitake mushrooms, maitake and reishi deserve special attention. Its therapeutic value is not so much in its nutrients but in its active principles, especially the polysaccharides, mainly beta-glucans, due to their immunomodulatory action and their well-studied anticancer effects, with the ability to stimulate the immune system without over-activating it”.
Dr. Josep Piqueras highlights part of the shiitake and maitake mushrooms, the enoki, and he highlights its adaptogenic function: “that is, they help us better adapt to the most adverse stages of life.” In other words, in exam time or during days of stress for a thousand and one reasons –cold, fatigue–, eating these three types of mushrooms helps improve health, and to do this, one does not suffer. ”
The dietician-nutritionist Marc Vergés argues that mushrooms “are the vegetable meat of the forest: rich in B vitamins, polysaccharides and a diversity of minerals.” He also cautions that the fibre they provide (taquitos) can be quite indigestible for some people.
According to author Paul Pitchford, in his book Healing with Whole Foods, the shiitake mushroom is good for the stomach; it is a good source of interferon, a substance that induces the immune response against cancer and viral diseases. Pitchford believes that mushrooms and all edible mushrooms are a good source of germanium, an element that improves cellular oxygenation and improves immunity. He cautions that longtime vegetarians should exercise caution when eating mushrooms and always do so in moderation.
White mushroom and chanterelle. Protective properties for the body
How should we cook mushrooms?
There are hundreds of recipes with mushrooms, but a couple of nutritionally very rich combinations that the nutritionist Rosa Barón highlights.
When it comes to eating them, as a garnish for salads, pasta dishes or legumes, they are ideal. “Instead of meat, you can choose to accompany the dishes with mushrooms.” “Not because its protein contribution is comparable – that of mushrooms is very low; they only provide 2% protein – but because the union of legumes with mushrooms and salads or pasta with mushrooms is very rich from a nutritional point of view”.
In addition, if we do not want to increase the energy that mushrooms provide us during cooking, it is more advisable to cook them on the grill, in the oven, boiled or steamed. This is also recommended by the doctor Josep Piqueras.
Attention! Never raw mushrooms
The doctor Josep Piqueras also warns that they should never be eaten raw. “The fashion for carpaccio is a good way to develop allergies.
Ias and intolerances. But worst of all is that mushrooms have a substance called again that the body hydrolyzes and gives a nitrosamine, a carcinogenic substance. This again is destroyed with minimal cooking of the mushrooms”. For this reason, he affirms: “Never accept a salad with raw mushrooms.”
This statement by the doctor is based on the scientific evidence published in this article, in which it is argued that the exposure to agaritin is substantially lower when the mushroom is cooked, even in a light way.
We go mushroom hunting all year long!
Autumn is mushroom time but, in addition to this season, the author of the book The best-kept secret, Marc Estévez, says that “there are spring and summer mushrooms. In part, they are the same spring or autumn mushrooms, which in certain places bear fruit during July and August”.
We find mushrooms all year, Estévez clarifies, “even in winter, but the most commercial and media season is autumn, which has pushed us to want to personalize them. But most mushrooms work based on a complex equation that considers temperatures, humidity and stored energy; If this equation is fulfilled, they are born, grow and reproduce, whether it is July 15 or September 15. Summer, especially in the mountains, is usually a good time to find many good mushrooms. ”
Where can mushrooms be found?
There are countless resources on the Internet that report suitable sites for finding mushrooms, although many people treasure this information. When we go to the forest, we must always be careful not to consume any harmless mushrooms.
A poisonous mushroom can cause serious health problems and even death. The doctor, mycologist, and toxicologist Josep Piqueras identifies by WhatsApp, for example.
If we do not want to risk or do not feel like looking for mushrooms, we can always go to the markets and seasonal fairs.
Chanterelle and yellow trumpet are common in our forests (Photo courtesy of Carlos Alonso)
Finally, we will always have cultivated mushrooms; Piqueras believes that “it is not proven that wild mushrooms have better immunomodulatory properties. These properties are given by a series of substances that cultivated mushrooms also have”.
He would add, “as long as this crop is organic,” since it is the only way to be sure that the substrate that has been used does not contain substances that can be toxic and that have not been treated with synthetic products.