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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.
Japanese 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.