Japanese mushroom recipes
Maitake and Shiitake and Enoki Oh My!
In Japan we have it good. We have, at our disposal, lots of local fresh produce to choose from. Each season brings us new things to eat. Apples and persimmons in the fall and juicy peaches and watermelon in the warmer months. Although mushrooms are at their peak in fall, they are available year round. There are many varieties of mushrooms here that are easily attaninable and are sold in supermarkets and farmer's markets at very reasonable prices, most of the time around 100 yen ( $1US ) a pack.
Today I've put together three of my favorite recipes using some of my favorite varieties of mushrooms which include maitake, shiitake, enoki, shimeji, eringi and nameko. Each one has a distict flavor with shiitake and maitake having the most intense flavors.
*Photo of all the mushrooms mentioned on a plate taken by myself
Did you know...
Scientists have isolated substances in shiitake that may play a vital role in curing and preventing many modern illnesses and diseases such as cancer, heart disease and AIDS.
Stay healthy the natural way
Shiitake and maitake are especially healthy for your body and can enhance your immune system. The fresh ones are easiest to use in cooking. However the dried varieties are concentrated in flavor as well as nutrients. A great way to use these mushrooms is to just add them to your rice cooker along with some rice (not the instant kind). Cook the rice and voila! You get great flavored rice with a boost of nutrients. This works as a great side dish for almost everything. Of course if you don't like to cook, you can simply take a supplement to get the benefits.
Sliced shiitake mushrooms are convenient and easy to use. Use them in miso or other soups, stews and stir-fries. Easy way to use them is to add some to your rice cooker with rice adding a great flavor with while giving you a nutritional boost.
Convenient because it's already cut into small pieces. I also add these before I turn on my rice cooker or add them to miso soups.
Mushrooms are superfoods
*Photo of maitake and shiitake taken my myself
Mushrooms are full of nutrients and some types may be extremely beneficial to your overall health. For example shiitake gives you protein, potassium, niacin, B vitamins, cailium, magnesium and phosphorus. They are also known to help your body fight viruses, lower cholesterol and control blood pressure.Scientists also believe that shiitake can improve your health by boosting your immune system defenses.For a more detailed look into shiitake's powers and benefits to our health, please check out whfoods
Maitake is also considered a superfood by many nutritionists and scientists. In traditional Chinese medicine, maitake is said to be one of the most cleansing food and targets the liver and lungs. In Japan, maitake is known to help strengthen the body and improve your overall health. I found a great website with some good information on maitake mushrooms and it's benefits to your health. Check it out here.
Have you tried Japanese mushrooms before?
This is a simple and delicious way to use shiitake and maitake. If you don't have them, you can use any kind of mushroom you have although white mushrooms just don't have the intense flavor as shiitake or maitake. Remember you don't need to wash your mushrooms and if there is any dirt on it, you should wipe it off with a paper towel. If you decide to give them a wash, make sure they are patted dry with a paper towel. The excess water on the mushrooms will make the oil splatter which is not a pleasant experience. In this recipe I use less oil for frying as I hate to waste oil. However tempura is typically made with lots of frying oil just like when you make fried chicken. It's your choice! ;)
I usually like to eat these with a sprinkling of salt. You can also use your favorite dip to enhance the flavor.
Prep Time: 15
Total Time: 30
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 1/4 cup coldseltzer water or just cold plain water
- a pinch of salt
- 1 cup chopped shiitake mushrooms (bite-sized pieces)
- 1 cup chopped maitake mushrooms (bite-sized pieces)
- 1 cup cooking oil
- 1. Prepare oil in a frying pan and heat to 350 degrees.
- 2. Chop the shiitake and maitake into bite-sized pieces. Set them aside. Make sure they are completely dry.
- 3. To make the tempura, mix the flour, cornstarch, salt and seltzer or plain water in a bowl. Do not overmix. Batter should be lumpy. Make sure the water is very cold.
- 4. Add the mushrooms into the batter and mix gently.
- 5. Carefully add about a 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of batter into the oil using a ladle or spatula making sure the batter forms into a nice circle shape. Don't make them too thick or else they will not cook evenly. I can usually fit around 3 in my frying pan. Make sure each piece is not touching.
- 6. Cook them for about 3 minutes. When they turn a nice golden color, flip them over and cook the other side for another 2-3 minutes. Once they are crispy and golden, drain them on paper towels to remove excess oil.
- 7. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of salt or your favorite dip.
The recipe in picturesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Do you like tempura?
Miso soup with nameko mushrooms is a great accompaniment to the tempura dish. Just add a bowl of nice steaming rice with some pickled vegetables and you have a complete meal. I'm not sure how easy it is to find nameko mushrooms outside of Japan but if you can't find them, you can use shiitake or maitake mushrooms in miso soup instead. I particularly enjoy maitake in my miso soup as I love the unique flavor and texture of it.
Nameko Miso SoupClick thumbnail to view full-size
Nameko Miso Soup
Miso soup is a great way to use nameko in your cooking and is the most common way we eat it here in Japan. Make sure the nameko is fresh. You will also need to have some kind of Japanese soup stock base or what we call "dashi". The "dashi" is one of the most important elements in Japanese cooking as is used for many dishes.
A simple way to make dashi is to put a stick of dried kombu ( kelp ) into a container of water and keep it overnight in the refrigerator. It will be ready to be used the next day. The kelp adds the necessary umami to the soup. If you are not vegan, you can simply use the instant dashi you can get at many Asian supermarkets.
Prep Time: 3
Total Time: 7
- 2 cups Japanese soup stock or dashi
- 1/2 cup nameko
- !/3 cup miso
- The directions are very simple. First you bring the soup stock to a boil. Add the nameko and cook on medium heat for about 3 minutes. Lower the heat and dissolve the miso making sure there are no lumps. Serve hot and enjoy!
How to make the perfect miso soup
This is a great video on how to make miso soup the proper way. Did you know you aren't supposed to boil your soup after you put the miso in? If you didn't, I suggest you watch the video. I promise it'll be worth it. ;)
This is a fish soup stock that's widely used by housewives in Japan. You can use them for miso soup. I love to use them as seasonings to make fried rice, fried noodles, other soups and more.
Japanese rice is best for Japanese dishes.
Rice with Shiitake
A Japanese meal is never complete without rice and adding shiitake is one of the ways we celebrate the autumn harvest. Shiitake gohan or rice with shiitake, is delicious and easy to make. Just add some fresh or dried shiitake when cooking your rice. Add a bit of salt and serve. You can also add a piece of dried konbu or instand dashi to add an extra bit of umami. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds if you like.
In Japan, food is enjoyed not only by taste, but also by sight and smell. Eliminating even one of these elements from a dish will make it incomplete.
The Japanese Vegan Bookstore
Here are some terrific cookbooks on Vegan Japanese cooking. You'll find that eating a typical Japanese diet will make you feel clean and improve your overall health.
Japanese Food Poll
Do you like Japanese food?
Do you like shiitake? Maitake? What do you think of Japanese food? Please leave your thoughts. Thanks! ;)