Dried shiitake mushrooms have a meaty flesh that’s paired with a full-bodied, earthy flavor that makes these fungi delicious in soups, stir fry recipes, and pasta dishes. You can use them as:
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can blend dry shiitake mushrooms to create a multi-purpose “umami powder” that enhances meat, vegetables, starches, grains, and sauces.
Shiitake are known by their Japanese name, which is appropriate since Japan is the world leader in production of shiitake. The name comes from a Japanese word meaning "oak fungus," as they are discovered most frequently growing at the base of Japanese oak conifers called "shii trees."
Many people believe that shiitake mushrooms are wild, because they are often included in “wild mushroom” mixes at the supermarket. However, they are the second most cultivated edible mushroom in the world, behind the common white button variety. Shiitake mushrooms have dark brown, broad, flat caps that curve down slightly at the edge toward the long, narrow stem. The gills underneath the cap are tan.
While most recipes recommend removing the stems, you should still save them, as they’re great added to homemade stock for an extra boost of umami-packed mushroom flavor. These umami-rich mushrooms have a hearty, meaty flesh and a rich, full-bodied, earthy flavor that lends itself to numerous cooking applications.