The Japanese are proud of their well-balanced cuisine, which is known for promoting relative health, longevity, and slimness. What is their secret? The usage of mushrooms is a big element of what makes Japanese cuisine so nutritious. Mushrooms in Japan are certainly one-of-a-kind. They are not derived from animals. They are the only multicellular fungus we eat that does not participate in fermentation. What else distinguishes edible mushrooms? The vast amount of species on the planet.
If you want to learn more about these unique gourmet fungi, we have a list of Japanese mushrooms for you. The following are eight different Japanese mushroom types. Some of them you may recognize, but the majority of them you have probably never heard of. Continue reading!
I. What exactly are Mushrooms in Japan?
Japan has traditionally considered mushrooms to be a traditional component of the fall season. As early as 4,000 years ago, ceramic mushrooms were consumed on a regular basis, according to archeological finds from prehistoric Jōmon settlements.
According to popular belief, mushrooms in Japan (so-called kinoko) are derived from the squishy fungi’s propensity to grow on and around trees (ki), particularly dead logs and rotting tree trunks.
Mushrooms in Japan have long been prized for their flavor and smell, as well as their nutritional worth. Can you picture all the valuable nutritional values packed into a single small piece of mushroom: fiber, protein, vitamins B and D, and a variety of minerals? But hold on, there’s more!
Japanese mushrooms are a low-calorie, low-cholesterol food that can help you diversify your diet. According to recent research, Japanese mushrooms may have anti-cancer qualities in addition to cardiovascular benefits and immune system-boosting properties. It’s no surprise that the Japanese adore mushrooms!
The humid environment of Japan supports over 5,000 types of mushrooms, only a few hundred of which are edible. There are numerous that might cause stomach pain or worse. That is why you should be aware of the most common varieties as well as how to cook Japanese mushrooms. Continue reading as we share these details with you.
Read more: Common types of Japanese seaweed.
II. Top 8 types of mushrooms in Japan you can eat
Take 2 minutes to list all of the Japanese mushroom types you are familiar with. It’s okay if you’re perplexed because the majority of mushrooms sold and consumed on the market nowadays come from Europe and North America.
Unlike mushrooms from Europe and North America, mushrooms from Asia in general, and mushrooms in Japan in particular, have a distinct flavor and texture. So, if you’re looking for some new and interesting mushrooms, stay reading because you won’t be disappointed.
The most popular Japanese mushrooms on the international market and in Japanese mushroom recipes may be shiitake mushrooms. And nothing else than its unique flavor and texture can account for its legendary fame.
Shiitake mushrooms feature thick brown caps that range in color from tan to dark brown, and white stems. When cooked, they have a strong earthy, umami flavor and a meaty, chewy texture that are both delectable and will hook you from the first bite.
In addition to being delicious, shiitake mushrooms are also good for your health. They are thought to be low in calories and high in B-complex vitamins, which improve red blood cell formation and metabolism. It is also advantageous for strong bones and a fantastic substitute for iron because it contains several essential elements. These fungi also include pantothenic acid and selenium, which help to lower inflammation and increase resistance to tumors and cancer.
Recent research suggests that shiitake can heal infections, lessen swelling, and perhaps stop the development of cancer tumors. All owing to the selenium and pantothenic acid that it contains.
Shiitake mushrooms come in two varieties: fresh and dried (or dehydrated). Check the stems for tenderness before cooking fresh shiitake. By preserving the softer stems and removing the tougher ones, you can use the stems as a component of the soup stock. Without a doubt, the dry form is tastier and more nourishing. Remember to soak it in water for many hours prior to using it.
If you want to utilize them in a Japanese style, try adding this sort of mushroom to a mushroom Japanese recipe like sukiyaki, a variety of hotpots that is rather comforting on a chilly night. As an alternative, you can prepare them using time-tested techniques like sautéing or adding them to the soup!
Perhaps you were unaware that the Japanese word for maitake is “dancing.” This name refers to the mushrooms’ flowing look. Because they resemble fluffy hens, the Maitake is sometimes known as “Hen of the Woods,” but there is no explanation for this name.
Maitake mushrooms could only be found in warm, humid conditions in the autumn before the invention of the special sawdust culture. Fortunately, the price of these mushrooms is fairly inexpensive because of technological developments.
The medical benefits of maitake mushrooms are well documented, and these benefits include vitamins B and C, copper, potassium, amino acids, and beta-glucans. The fact that these nutrients play a substantial part in cancer prevention is what makes them so important. However, there’s still more!
Because they help to manage certain conditions, maitake mushrooms are great friends for people who have high cholesterol or glucose levels. Additionally, they’ll strengthen your immune system.
Did we mention that they taste wonderful and meaty? While their flavor may not be as good as Shiitake or Matsutake mushrooms’, their delicate texture and umami flavor will warm your heart. To complement the flavors of the entire platter, we strongly advise using them as side dishes in soup or pasta. Sincere Maitake miso soup, just for you. Try it out!
Erungii is one of the biggest oyster mushrooms in Japan, also referred to as the King Trumpet or King Oyster. The use of this type of mushroom in Japanese cooking is relatively new. Before being mass-cultivated in Japan a few decades ago, these mushrooms were first found in North Africa, the Middle East, and Mediterranean Europe. Eryngi mushrooms, however, are a natural fit in Japanese cooking.
Natural antioxidants found in eryngii mushrooms shield the body from potentially harmful damaged cells, reducing the risk of chronic illness. Additionally, it boosts immune system activity and blood flow, helping the body combat inflammation. The selenium present in the king oyster mushroom is also abundant in protein, and vitamins, and is easier to absorb than the inorganic selenium found in dietary supplements. Dietitians therefore strongly recommend including Eringi mushrooms in daily cooking.
Eryngii mushrooms don’t have a distinctive smell or flavor when they are raw, but when they are cooked, they explode with flavor! It frequently gets cooked on skewers like a steak and makes a fantastic meat substitute thanks to its plump texture. Its umami can be improved with a tiny bit of butter, salt, and pepper.
Enokitake, which gets its name from the tree it grows on, is a common ingredient in Chinese and Japanese cooking. Enoki is also referred to as the “winter mushroom” because it is at its height from September to March. The thick clusters of long, slender mushrooms with short, white stems that make up enoki are immediately identifiable. The color of the wild enoki was brownish-orange, and its stems were thicker and shorter.
Enoki mushrooms are low in calories, fat, and sugar. While Niacin (Vitamin B3) and vitamin D, which are advantageous for those who are prone to type 2 diabetes and consequent heart attacks are also abundant in these mushrooms in Japan. These mushrooms also help with weight loss and the immune system, and cancer-fighting cells are activated.
Enoki mushrooms are popular in East Asian cuisine in general and Japanese cuisine in particular. In Asian markets, they are sold in bunches and are characterized by their long, thin stems and tiny heads. They often taste fruity and have a crisp texture.
You can try a number of Japanese cuisines with enoki mushrooms. Due to their mild flavor and capacity to absorb the broth, they are frequently used in Japanese hotpots. They can also be added to soups like Nabe and Sukiyaki as well as to appetizers like Aemono. Please give it a go!
Matsutake mushrooms or you can say it’s Japanese Truffle. This illustrates the high value of these mushrooms, particularly in light of their inclusion on the Red List. Slow development and overexploitation are additional probable causes for their plight besides climate change.
Matsutake mushrooms in Japan often grow in long shapes beneath trees, however, they are very challenging to obtain. These mushrooms in Japan are extremely expensive since they cannot be grown commercially and only appear in the fall. Per pound, they can sell for between $1000 and $2000. Although a tad pricey, you get what you pay for!
These mushrooms in Japan are well-known for having a high concentration of copper, which is necessary for your body to produce platelets. In addition, they are a fantastic source of protein, vitamin D, and several minerals.
Don’t overlook their mouthwatering flavor. Matsutake mushrooms have a distinct aroma and taste that is earthy and peppery. The flavor of this type of mushroom degrades if stored for an extended period of time, thus it should be consumed as soon as it is harvested.
Japanese cuisine chooses to employ the Matsutake mushroom in a minimal number of recipes due to the fungus’s intense flavor and aroma. Mushrooms: Should You Eat Them Raw or Cooked? It’s not a bad idea to grill or cook this kind of fish in rice or a specialty soup like Dobin-Mushi or Osuimono. By doing so, it will be possible to preserve the aroma and preserve the rice’s distinctively earthy and spicy flavor. Japanese people love matsutake mushrooms, which are also a common element in sukiyaki.
Read more: Top 15 Japanese rice bowls you should try
In Japanese comic books and mobile games, there is a cute tiny fungus named Nameko. The Nameko mushrooms in Japan have a lovely appearance in nature due to its golden hue. They also have long and slender stems with little caps. They have a striking, eye-catching color that has earned them the nickname “butterscotch mushrooms” in some areas. However, that nickname isn’t just used to describe their color; it also describes how slimy and gelatin-like they feel.
Significant amounts of calcium, copper, potassium, and vitamin B are present in Nameko. Similar to other mushrooms, it is said to lower the risk of cancer, enhance cholesterol levels, and strengthen the immune system.
Due to its mildly nutty flavor, it is widely eaten in sushi rolls, hot pots, and stir-fries. Nameko mushrooms are a perfect addition to miso soup or soba noodles due to the thin film of gelatin on their caps that turns into a type of glaze when cooked. Do you want to try a special mushroom Japanese recipe with Nameko? These mushrooms pair particularly nicely with dishes that incorporate chocolate since they are naturally slick.
Shimeji mushrooms are part of a group of fungi known for their long stems and tiny, spherical heads. They were initially raised in northern Europe and East Asia. There are over 20 different varieties of shimeji mushrooms in Japan. The three most often consumed types of Japanese food are hon-shimeji, buna-shimeji, and versatile. While some species, like buna-shimeji versatile, are now widely cultivated and available in all supermarkets, hon-shimeji continues to be a difficult plant to grow.
Common characteristics of shimeji mushrooms include their small, brown heads and white stems. But the flavor is really good. The flavor of these mushrooms is therefore undeniable; it has even been claimed, “For flavor, Shimeji; for scent, Matsutake.”
Despite the fact that Shimeji mushrooms can be eaten raw, most people cook them due of their potent flavor. Mushrooms have cell walls that can only be weakened by heat. These are the strongest kind of cell walls. As a result, after cooking, shimeji will have more nutrients.
Due to their excellent nutritional value, shimeji mushrooms are highly respected by vegetarians and vegans. These microscopic mushrooms provide critical elements like copper, vitamin B, potassium, zinc, and others. So stop waiting and put them on your list of things you absolutely must try!
Because of their unique flavors, they are commonly used in a wide range of cuisines. You will fall in love with shimeji mushrooms prepared with herbs. They can also be employed to prepare saute, soups, nabe, pasta, tempura, etc. There are so many delicious dishes that have hardly any mushrooms.
8. Kikurage Mushroom
Kikurage is one of the most widely consumed varieties of Japanese mushrooms, despite the odd sounding name.
Since “Kikurage” in Japanese means “Tree Jellyfish,” it’s easy to imagine the unusual texture and appearance of these mushrooms. They feel stiff, rubbery, and slippery and have a faintly earthy flavor. These innate properties make them a perfect match for many recipes.
Although they don’t have the nicest flavor, these mushrooms in Japan have several health benefits. Kikurage mushrooms have a high protein and fiber content and relatively few calories. For instance, a serving provides roughly 80 calories, 0 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of fat. As a result, it is an excellent element for those who are dieting or attempting to maintain a healthy weight. There are nonetheless additional benefits.
These mushrooms in Japan are abundant in vitamins B1 and B2, which support the function of your liver by converting carbohydrates to glucose. They have traditionally played a significant role in conventional Asian medicine, and recently, their usage in Western medicine has grown.
Kikurages have a well-deserved reputation for boosting immunity and reducing inflammation. Additionally, they can help you lower your cholesterol and keep your heart healthy. As a result, they are widely used in Japanese soup, stew, and salad. Remember to try it out!
III. How to choose mushrooms in Japan for cooking?
We chase after mushrooms like hobbits to prepare Japanese recipes for mushrooms because of something about their flavor. However, what makes a mushroom edible? Do you desire more of them to be consumed? Cooking tips for mushrooms in Japan can be found here.
- Always choose dry, smooth, and firm mushrooms.
- Beware of spotted, damaged, squishy, and slimy mushrooms.
- As opposed to smaller mushrooms, choose larger or medium-sized ones.
- Mushrooms that are younger have closed tops and are more compact. Mature mushrooms have open caps that show the gills on the undersides. Now, depending on your preference, you can pick either young or mature mushrooms.
IV. How to store mushrooms in Japan?
Wouldn’t it be disappointing to remove the mushrooms in Japan from the refrigerator only to see slime balls that are discolored or dried-out pieces of forest debris? They don’t seem that attractive in this setting! If not properly preserved, mushrooms soon go bad because of their delicate flesh and high water content. Let’s look at how to store them to maintain their freshness and increase their shelf life so you can completely enjoy these delicate mushrooms.
- Before storing the mushrooms in Japan, please give them a thorough wash. Sprinkle it into a bowl of water first.
- In a paper bag or a zip-lock bag, chill fresh mushrooms.
- Just keep them in storage for up to three or four days, no longer.
- They are not preserved mushrooms. However, it is ideal to both cook and consumes fresh mushrooms.
There is practically a variety of mushrooms in Japan for every occasion among the 8 variations listed here, so there is no excuse for you to skip adding some mushrooms in Japan to your next meal.
Numerous studies have revealed that Japanese mushrooms have greater basic nutritional content than most people realize in terms of health advantages, therefore routinely including them in your meals will eventually produce some results!
Be on the lookout for Japanese mushrooms that have a firm texture, are unbruised, and unwithered if you haven’t shopped for them previously. Happy mushrooms in Japan hunting, and do let us know what you think of the varieties you try for the first time!