‘Shiitake’ is the Japanese name for a variety of mushroom — ‘shii’ meaning ‘from a hardwood tree’ and ‘take’ meaning ‘mushroom.’ It is known as the ‘Chinese black mushroom.’ Shiitake mushroom has a rich, buttery, meaty flavour, quite unlike other varieties. When dried, the shiitake's flavours concentrate to a smoky richness. It is considered a medicinal mushroom in some forms of traditional medicine. Shiitakes have been cultivated in China and Japan for 2,000 years.

Dried shiitakes are versatile and affordable. Their meaty texture and smoky flavour make them great to eat on their own as well as if paired with other varieties. Shiitakes are an obvious choice for Asian dishes, filling soy-based braises or stews or perking up quick stir-fries. They never come into contact with dirt, so the only washing usually necessary is a gentle wipe with a damp cloth. They make an excellent addition to a stockpot.

Sautéing is the most common treatment for shiitakes. One of the most important techniques for sautéing shiitakes is maintaining the sound of constant sizzling while they're in the pan, which means you're cooking them over live heat. Shiitakes should develop a brown, crisp outside, which will boost their flavour. In Japan, they are served in miso soup, used as the basis for a kind of vegetarian dashi, and also as an ingredient in many steamed and simmered dishes. In Thailand, they are served either fried or steamed. While the majority of shiitake mushrooms produced worldwide are grown on a sawdust block in a non-natural setting, it is possible for them to be grown on natural hardwood logs in a forest setting.

According to studies, regular consumption of shiitakes could help boost the immune system and prevent cancer, especially gastric cancer. They make a great diet food as they are low-calorie and packed with fibre.

Now, for a recipe.

Sighan Muttar

Ingredients

Oil: 20 ml

Chopped green chilli: 15 gm

Chopped ginger: 20 gm

Yellow gravy: 75 ml

Onion-tomato masala: 25 ml

Ghee: 10 ml

Green peas: 10 gm

Button mushroom: 800 gm

Shiitake mushroom: 100 gm

Lemon juice: 15 ml

Method: Heat oil; add chopped green chillies and ginger and sauté for a while.

Add yellow gravy and onion-tomato masala. Add boiled button mushroom and shiitake and cook for around 10 minutes. Add green peas and mushroom. Finish with ghee and lemon juice.

Executive Sous Chef

Taj Club House

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