Know Your Japanese Mushrooms

Enoki, Shiitake, Shimeji, Matsutake, Maitake, Nameko, and Eringi. Do you recognize these words?

Enoki, Shiitake, Shimeji, Matsutake, Maitake, Nameko, Eringi, Kofuki-Saru-no-Koshikake.  Do you recognize these words? They are just a few of the many types of mushrooms seen in food markets in Japan.

The generic word for mushroom in Japanese is kinoko, literally meaning “tree children”  — though rarely used because it is too broad. In Japan, even children know their mushrooms by type.

Mushrooms are easy to grow. Here in Miyazaki, logs of shiitake are often seen growing near peoples’ homes or inside wild bamboo forests.

Mushroom are Superfoods

Mushrooms are excellent nutrition sources for invigorating the immune system and fighting disease and illness. They also lower cholesterol and contain powerful anti-aging antioxidants.

Five ounces (140 grams) of a typical mushroom such as shiitake has about 25 kilocalories. At the same time, it contains 27% of daily value of vitamin B3, 21% of vitamin B5, 21% of vitamin B6 and 18% of vitamin B2.

Furthermore it is an excellent source of minerals such a as manganese, phosphorus and potassium.

Japanese use many types of mushrooms in their daily cuisine. Some of the most popular ones are listed below.

Enoki

Enoki mushrooms have small, firm caps and a long, slender stems.Enoki mushrooms have small, firm caps and a long, slender stems. They are slightly crunchy with a mild, delicate flavor.

Because of their shape and texture, many dieters use them as substitute for pasta.

Enoki mushrooms are eaten almost always cooked. They go well with all meats and seafoods and are excellent in stir fries, stews and soups.

Shiitake

Shiitake mushrooms are perhaps the most popular type of mushroom in Japan.Shiitake mushrooms are perhaps the most popular type of mushroom in Japan.

They are soft and have a meaty, chewy texture when cooked.

The rich flavor of shiitake mushrooms is earthy with pine and smoky overtones. Very common in stir-fried dishes.

Shimeji

Shimeji mushrooms are firm with a slightly crunchy texture and mildly nutty flavor.Shimeji mushrooms are firm with a slightly crunchy texture and mildly nutty flavor.

They are almost always eaten cooked. Good in stir fries, soups, stews and any kind of seafood.

Matsutake

Matsutake mushrooms are among the rarest on most expensive type os mushrooms anywhere.Matsutake mushrooms are among the rarest on most expensive type os mushrooms anywhere.

Highest quality Matsutakes can cost several hundred (if not a thousand!) dollars per kilogram.

They have an intense aroma with clean, pine and cinnamon-like flavor.

Maitake

Maitake mushrooms have a tender, semi-firm body.Maitake mushrooms have a tender, semi-firm body.

Their luscious flavor ranges from fruity to earthy and slightly spicy.

Maitakes are easy-going as they absorbs companion ingredients’ flavors when cooked.

Nameko

Nameko mushrooms come in small clusters with orangey, shiny caps.Nameko mushrooms come in small clusters with orangey, shiny caps.

They are chewy and have a slightly gelatin-like texture.

Namekos have a mild, earthy flavor with nutty overtones. They go well with miso soup as a natural thickener.

Eringi

Eringi mushrooms are full-bodied, with chewy, meaty texture and slight hint of sweetness.Eringi mushrooms are full-bodied, with chewy, meaty texture and slight hint of sweetness.

It is almost always eaten cooked. Some resemble Eringi’s taste and texture to that of abalone.

Kofuki-Saru-no-Koshikake

Japanese Ganoderma applanatumJapanese dry and dice this to make an herbal tea known for its antibacterial, immunity boosting, antitumor and other health benefits.

The tea has a smooth, rich, slightly sweet and very mushroomy flavor.

 

Yoshi

Yoshi

Yoshi is a contributing editor for Miyazaki Whispers. She holds a 5-dan rank in Japanese Kyudo Archery, and has lived and worked in Japan, UK and US in global marketing and as an IT localization professional. Yoshi's interests are Japanese and western cuisine and kimono art.
Yoshi

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Yoshi

About Yoshi

Yoshi is a contributing editor for Miyazaki Whispers. She holds a 5-dan rank in Japanese Kyudo Archery, and has lived and worked in Japan, UK and US in global marketing and as an IT localization professional. Yoshi's interests are Japanese and western cuisine and kimono art.
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2 Responses to Know Your Japanese Mushrooms

  1. Diane Saull says:

    what is the average daily serving size of shitakes in Japan? I’ve been eating them now
    for about a month since I learned of the benefits to the immune system…

    • yoshi yoshi says:

      We use shiitake in different ways such as grilled (yaki-shiitake), in rice (kinoko gohan) and hot pot mixed dishes (nabe), though almost never raw.

      We also use a lot of dried shiitake. They are much more intense in flavor and aroma and you can keep at room temperature almost indefinitely. You rehydrate them for a few hours and then use in whatever dish you like. Also, the left-over water is very umami-rich and can be used as stock.

      Japan’s Ministry of Health classifies dietary vegetables in two categories: Dark Greens and Lights, Mushrooms & Seaweeds. The dietary guide for Lights, Mushrooms & Seaweeds is 230 grams per day per person (adults).

      For immune boosting, the general recommendation is 100 grams of fresh shiitake (or 16 grams if dried) per day taken for two weeks.

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