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Shiitake Mushrooms

The basics:  Shiitakes can be used any way you would use the more familiar button mushrooms, except that you remove the stems from shiitakes (they are great in soup stock), and shiitakes take a little longer to cook.  Experiment! 

Our three favorite ways to cook shiitakes:

You will notice a theme here: oil.  Mushrooms in general seem to prefer cooking in oil--water makes them, well, watery. 

1. Saute.  First saute garlic or onions in olive oil or butter.  Then add your stemmed and sliced shiitakes.  Cook them until they are soft, or keep going until they get a bit browned.  Add salt and pepper.  These mushrooms are great as a side dish for anything from pesto to beef.  They are also delicious in scrambled eggs, as a pasta or pizza topping, or just by themselves.  We like them in potato soup, too.

2. Sandwich.  Remove the shiitake stems, and cook the whole caps, laid flat, in a skillet with some olive oil.  This takes a while; press them down with a spatula now and then, and cook on both sides until they are lightly browned and tender.  Assemble a sandwich with whatever else you want: tomatoes, cheese, mayo, relish, arugula...

3.  Shiitake burgers.  We make this one differently every time, but here's the basic method:  Put maybe a cup and a half of shiitake caps (raw) into the food processor and chop them fine.  Add an egg or two (depending on the eggs' size), salt and pepper, chopped garlic, herbs, and several handfuls of breadcrumbs.  Run the food processor just enough to get this all well mixed.  Make burgers with your hands and fry them (the burgers, not your hands) in oil in a cast iron or nonstick skillet.  We like these served on their own, without bread--horseradish and mayonnaise is a nice topping.

Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe has a yummy recipe for savory mushroom bread pudding.  And don't forget about Thanksgiving stuffing!