Shiitake mushrooms can be harvested in spring, fall, and winter. Particularly spring harvested mushrooms have thicker meat, and are more fragrant. You don’t need to go through elaborate cooking process to enjoy shiitake mushrooms. Just cut the stamps off close to the cap (stamps are too tough to chew), simply grill them, and drop a small amount of soy sauce. The earthy aroma, rich flavor, and meaty texture will amaze you.
Shiitake mushrooms are not exotic grocery items any longer, so that many grocery stores and health food stores regularly carry them.
Conventionally, thick, plump, and not too open cap is the sign of good fresh mushrooms. However, such mushrooms you can find in the United States are imported from China. If you want to buy shiitake mushrooms grown in America, you must choose the ones with thin and flat caps. The mushrooms of the photograph above are most likely imported from China.
For more information about the origin of mushrooms, please see this NPR page.
How to Choose Shiitake Mushrooms
- Thicker caps, which are not widely open
- The color of the gills shouldn’t be dark or watery (the sign of spoilage)
- Stout stamps
As soon as you buy shiitake mushrooms, store them in refrigerator. They usually last a couple of weeks.
Other than grilling them, stir fry them with butter or oil and small amount of salt or soy sauce is also good. Add some chopped scallions while frying to add extra flavor. Here is one example of a shiitake mushroom side dish.