Shiitake mushrooms have been in use for centuries, especially in Japan. But not too long ago, it was discovered that these mushrooms can be one of the reasons why the Japanese live so long!
Aside from being served as a delicatessen, the Shiitake mushrooms are close to being a wonder in herbal medicine.
They are considered to be a viable immunostimulant, the mushrooms are proven to lower the blood levels of cholesterol, they possess anti-bacterial and anti-viral qualities.
Because they act as an immunostimulant, they are widely used to fight viruses and diseases that affect the immune system. It is clinically proven that injections of lentinan slow HIV down better than most of the synthetic anti-HIV drugs that are out there at the moment. Extracts of shiitake are used intravenously in Japan to fight cancers and slow them down. What is interesting is that the injections actually work, at least partially.
Obviously, the main reason why people eat them is purely for the taste. Cooks consider fresh shiitake better than the dried ones, although the dried ones can be re-hydrated with proteins. It’s probably because shiitake mushrooms lose some taste when they’re dried. The mushrooms are grown on outdoor logs and have a pleasant taste and a flavor that some regard as ‘beefy’. The mushrooms are a common food for vegetarians, because of its beefy taste and the astonishing amounts of proteins that are present in shiitake mushrooms. Cooks think that you can replace mushrooms with shiitake mushrooms and the food will taste better – no matter what the dish is.
Shiitake mushrooms are one of the delicacies that don’t cost that much, but beware of fake shiitake mushrooms, as there are a lot of other mushrooms that are edible while fresh and possess the pleasant taste similar to that of shiitake. If you want the best shiitake, choose the shiitake that were grown on logs instead of a sawdust medium. A shiitake grown on outdoor logs has a dark brown cap and may have a thin veil on the underside of the cap. Shiitake grown on something else generally lack the flavor and are dry, thus harder to prepare and probably having less healthy fluids that are present in high quality shiitake.
Furthermore, if you order the mushrooms over the internet, always check their country of origin. An enraged American shiitake grower said: “My customers don’t want to eat lead, mercury and other heavy metals, and EVERY chinese shiitake that’s ever been tested by the FDA has come back with heavy metal contamination.” – of course NOT ALL of the Chinese shiitake are dangerous for your health, but you shouldn’t take any chances and get only the top-notch production. And top-notch usually means either Japanese, Korean, or American shiitake.
There are many, many things that are yet to be discovered about these wonderful mushrooms, but we know for sure – they are really healthy, they have a really wide range of use, and last of all – they are REALLY tasty.All of us (like me for example) aren’t cooking veterans though, and if you aren’t keen on cooking, you’ll have to spend a pretty solid amount of cash in restaurants to have a taste of the godly mushroom; but nevertheless, shiitake are a big reason why you should pick up cooking or at least learn to make basic mushroom dishes by yourself.