A guide to loving shiitake mushrooms
March 23, 2020 7:48 AM   Subscribe

I have an extravagance of fresh shiitake mushrooms. I find the flavor overwhelmingly strong. Give me recipes or techniques that will help me to enjoy these.

My local farms brilliantly teamed up to deliver produce and local agricultural products (in Massachusetts: https://massfooddelivery.com/, statewide except for the Cape so far). I ordered a mixed veggie box that came with a large bag of shiitake mushrooms. These are not mild shiitakes, they are strong, umami-full, meaty shiitakes. What can I cook them with that will be their match?

I sliced some into a turkey soup (stock, turkey, carrot, celery, onion, garlic, potato) I'd already made and added peas, ginger and topped it with scallions and a little tamari. The shiitake were too intense to me; my spouse liked them. How can I temper this intensity in other recipes?

I'm a competent cook with a well-stocked kitchen and I will confidently make substitutions where needed. Recipes or general guidelines or ideas are welcome.
posted by carrioncomfort to Food & Drink (6 answers total)
Make 'em taste a little like steak:

Remove the gills (they taste like dirt but will not hurt you.) Cut them in long strips.

Soak the strips in marinade:
Enough balsamic where it looks like they are all drenched
Some Gravy Master (less than a teaspoon)
Some liquid smoke (barely a gnome's sip)
About a tablespoon of garlic salt
About a teaspoon of soy sauce
Pinch of kosher salt
2 crushed garlic cloves
Optional: like one shake of cayenne

Let it soak for at least 20 minutes, longer is fine. The marinade is similar to what you usually see for "carrot hot dogs."

Get a generous (3 tablespoons?) amount of butter or fake butter sizzling hot in a pan. Alternative oils do not work since you need that realistic butter flavor. I used non-stick, have not tried it in another pan.

Add the mushrooms and the marinade, and spread them out so they are not crowded. Let them sizzle for a while. As they exude liquid, grind black pepper over them for a long time, as long as an awkward hug. It's ok to stir, but what we are going for is some sear/char on the outside edges. They are done when they suck their liquid back in such that you would not have anything much to work with if you were trying to make a pan sauce.
posted by blnkfrnk at 8:02 AM on March 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

I also find shiitakes too intense too enjoy. My tactic is to cut them into strips, dehydrate them (in the oven) and crumble the dried mushrooms into soups, stews, sauces, etc.
posted by hannahelastic at 8:05 AM on March 23, 2020

This (vegan!) mixed mushroom chowder is one of the best and most simple things I've ever eaten. Shiitakes will work really well as part of whatever mushroom combo you use because this soup really benefits from having a umami bomb.
posted by blerghamot at 8:24 AM on March 23, 2020

I feel that flavors like miso and shaoxing compliment shiitakes, not necessarily making them taste less, but taking the focus off them. We make lots of Miso claypot chicken, sometimes with dried, sometimes with fresh shiitakes.

I have also found that giving shiitake slices a nice saute in a butter/oil combo (a very french preparation for mushrooms) increases the 'satisfying' flavor, but tamps down on the earthy mushroomy flavors in favor for some salt-n-brown maillard flavors.

You can also dehydrate them in a paper bag or on a plate in the fridge; they'll slowly dry out and will last quite some time. Tossing a few dried ones into a broth will bring some depth, but not an overly shiitake flavor.
posted by furnace.heart at 9:51 AM on March 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

I keep dried shiitake as a non-perishable staple, and use them in soups, stews and stir-fries in combination with lots of other things.

When I get them fresh it's in a pack of mixed fancy mushrooms, which usually go in a stir-fry (also with some extra vegetables).

If you have too many of them to use in such small quantities before they go bad, dry them! A dehydrator of some kind is ideal, but if you don't have one you can thread them onto a piece of string and hang them up, or (if it's too humid) put them in the oven (at the lowest possible temperature, ideally with the door ajar).
posted by confluency at 1:25 PM on March 23, 2020

Korean-ish pickled mushrooms are nice and will keep for awhile. This may temper the mushroom flavor some, but mostly it'll overwhelm it with vinegar and sugar. The recipe is very simple; you basically simmer mushrooms in a broth of vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar for half an hour, then cool them. It starts with dried shiitake but I'm sure it'd work with fresh, too.

If you have access to a food drier, dried shiitake are a great pantry staple for adding a little flavor to pretty much anything. But they're also a cheap and available commodity, the fresh ones you have are special!
posted by Nelson at 7:25 AM on March 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

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