Mushrooms provide a wonderful texture and flavor to many worldwide cuisines. This is particularly true of Japanese dishes. Mushrooms are a prized food in Japan and are very sought after for their health benefits and delicious taste.
The following is a list of the 13 most popular types of mushrooms used in daily cuisine in Japan. Many are excellent for flavorful dishes, but there’s a couple that is medicinal in use and incorporated into teas and even one variety that sells for $100 USD per mushroom.
Of all the mushrooms from Japan, Shiitakes are the most famous and ancient. They’re dark brown with a characteristic firm texture and have a rich, distinct flavor. You can find them dried and fresh, with the dried versions being much stronger in taste. They go in soups, simmered dishes, and hotpots.
These are beneficial to the immune system and chock full of minerals and vitamins.
This native Japanese mushroom is very tasty and versatile. Unlike many mushrooms, it will continue to grow in the same spot for several years. It has a bushy floral-like appearance with many stems that develop in large bunches. These are excellent in hotpots, soups, and other sautéed dishes.
Maitakes help lower blood pressure and are said to have anti-cancer properties.
As a hard, woody mushroom, Saru-No-Koshikake Mushrooms are a Japanese delicacy. They dry it and drink it as a healing tea. This is excellent for boosting immunity along with being antibacterial and anti-tumor.
Also known as King Oyster Mushrooms, Eringi isn’t native to Japan. However, the Japanese developed their own variety over time. Eringi Mushrooms are very large with a huge, fat stem. They have a meaty quality and are a great replacement for vegan and vegetarian diets.
They have a buttery and mild taste that goes great with stir fry. These are excellent for managing cholesterol levels and are low in calories.
Tamagotake Mushrooms are rich in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. They have a strong umami, or mushroom-like, flavor. These red mushrooms appear poisonous but they aren’t. However, there are some in the wild that look just like them, which are toxic to humans.
The best way to prepare Tamagotake is by frying or grilling them. However, they are very delicate and not commercial mushrooms. Thus, they are difficult to find or buy. But these are a favorite among Japanese mushroom hunters between summer and fall.
The Matsutake Mushroom is the most expensive of its kind in Japan. Only sourced from wild places, they can cost upwards of $100 per mushroom. They’re uniquely rich and flavorful with a wonderful aroma. Because it’s luxury food, most people only cook them in small amounts as part of a luxurious stir fry or soup additive.
But they are an excellent source of B vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.
Often found in late fall, Mukitake Mushrooms are top-notch in regards to flavor and texture. They are similar to oyster mushrooms in appearance because they have a flat shape but their meatiness with gelatinous outer coating makes them great in soups and stir fry.
They help guard against liver disease and boost the immune system.
The long and skinny appearance of Enoki Mushrooms has a characteristic white look that gives them the appearance of noodles. They have a texture like noodles too. They grow in bunches in the wild or in farming production.
The Japanese love to add these to soups and hotpots because of the mushroom’s ability to absorb the broth. These are rich in minerals and antioxidants along with vitamin B.
Translating to “bag” in Japanese, Fukurotake Mushrooms have an egg shape and grow on top of rice straw. These have a very mild flavor and are stellar for lowering cholesterol and improving heart health. The only way to get them outside Japan is to find them dried or canned.
These have a slippery texture due to their natural gelatin within the makeup of a Nameko Mushroom. They’re popular in miso soup because of this, denoting a mild but earthy taste. These are high in selenium, which is famous for its anti-cancer properties.
The Kikurage Mushroom, also called the Wood Ear Mushroom, is a special fungus that’s rubbery and gelatinous yet firm. There’s not a lot of flavor to them, but they are excellent in combination with other flavors. So, they seem to enhance the overall taste of a dish like soups and salads.
The word translates to “tree jellyfish” because of their unique texture. They’re anti-inflammatory with high iron and antioxidant content.
Another excellent Japanese oyster mushroom is the Hiratake, which means “flat mushroom.” They go into a wide range of dishes, particularly soups and soy sauce. They have a mild taste with an aroma similar to anise. They help to lower cholesterol and are an excellent source of minerals and vitamins.
Native to Japan with a rich mushroom flavor, Shimeji Mushrooms are perfect for any type of Japanese dish. They’re meaty yet firm when cooked but have a bitter taste when consumed raw. However, they are low in fat and provide an excellent source of fiber.
Exploring Japanese Mushroom Varieties
Mushrooms in Japan are almost as common to Japanese cuisine as rice. They offer a delectable flavor incomparable to other ingredients. Such mushrooms offer original flavor and give many dishes their characteristic taste so synonymous with classic Japanese cooking.