The Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinus edodes) is one of the most popular of the gourmet culinary mushrooms. Shiitakes have been harvested in Asia for over 1000 years. The name “shiitake” is derived from the Japanese word for tree, “shii” and mushroom “taki”.
Shiitake Mushrooms are medium-sized and have tan to brown caps. They are best when the cap edges are curled inwards and they typically have a whitish underside and stem.
Shiitakes are so flavorful and nutritious, the Japanese consider them “the elixir of life” and, during the Chinese Ming Dynasty, the Shiitake Mushroom was reserved for the Emperor and his family.
Because of their rich taste, Shiitakes will enhance the flavor of almost any dish. Typically, they are sauteed or stir fried. They can also be added to soups and sauces to increase their richness and flavor.