Shiitake - a Far-East Wonder of Nature
You will regain your energy, strengthen your immune system, fight stress, get rid of sexual issues and stop the aging process! Aren’t there too many promises when it comes to one little mushroom? It seems that you can find many more… And in the end it seems that you can add a big handful of culinary advantages.
Where do they come from?
These are the oldest mushrooms cultivated by a human. They can be found in the wild in the Eastern Asia, Japan, China and the Indochina Peninsula. They grow on dead (non-coniferous) hardwood. Shiitake mushrooms are also grown in greenhouses or outdoors. Nowadays, they are cultivated all over the world.
What does "Shiitake” exactly mean?
The mushroom’s name originates from the Japanese- "shii” standing for the "tree", which they are grown on in their natural habitat, and "ta-ké"- "mushroom". You can encounter two alternative names of it in Poland: "twardnik japoński" or "twardziak japoński"- "black oak mushroom".
What do they taste like?
They are very intense and have slightly acid flavour. That is due to sulphur and lentinan. Specific experiences originate from a significant amount of umami. That is so called "the fifth taste" defined as having full, deep and spongy quality.
What do they look like?
They’ve got brown curled caps and light-red-brown stems. They can be characterized by white flesh and incredibly intense aroma. They are very tender and can be eaten raw. However, only the stems are hard, that is why they are generally cut off before cooking.
Why are they so popular?
Shiitakes are recommended by chefs as well as doctors! The mushroom’s importance has become a sensation when scientists made two discoveries- separated lentinan, proving its anti-cancer qualities, and discovered mushroom phytoncides able to fight even such viruses as HIV! Shiitakes have become subject to clinical trials in Europe, America, Russia and Far East.
What do they contain?
Apart from the above mentioned lentinan and phytoncides, these mushrooms are a valuable source of easily digestible protein, fibre, vitamins (A, B group, D, E, C, K) and minerals (potassium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, iron). Another important component is eritadenine, which lowers the level of cholesterol (LDL).
What can be prepared out of them?
First of all, we can eat them raw. Shiitake caps are most often cooked in the same manner as the parasol mushrooms- season them, dip in egg, coat with breadcrumbs and fry gold. These mushrooms maintain their nutritional value also when dried. When soaked in warm water, they regain their shape and consistency. They are great for all kinds of Asian dishes. They perfectly go well with rice and pasta. They are an invaluable addition to soups, sauces, salads and vegetable dishes. You can also use them to prepare a stock or marinate them.
What do they help with?
It’s good to know that in the traditional Far East medicine they are referred to as "the elixir of life". Reports from scientists indicate that including them in your daily diet will help improve immunity.
Shiitakes are officially recognized in Japan as a supplement supporting medical treatment and preventing cancer diseases. These mushrooms are used to treat heart diseases, obesity, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, tumours, fatigue, bacterial infections, sexual problems and issues related to aging.
Do dried Shiitake lose their value?
Everything depends on the drying process. If the mushrooms are dried with a warm air flow, they retain all the best components: vitamins and nutrients. The drying process removes water only. Dried Shiitakes’ nutritional value is worth noting, too. Each 100g of the product contains 75g carbohydrates, 11g fibre, 2g simple sugars, 10g proteins and only 1g fat.
In Poland dried Shiitakes are most often found. You will find such product in our online shop.