Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms have become a more frequent sight in Manila in the past few years. Best known as the dried “Chinese Black Mushroom” sold in Chinese or Asian groceries, the fresh version is a welcome addition to the list of ingredients available locally. At the market this morning, I picked up these fine examples of what a fresh shiitake mushroom should be: fleshy, substantial and with a slight aroma somewhat garlicky in nature. The fresher the mushroom, the more “domed” the caps will appear and their edges will curl under.
Shiitakes were originally from Japan and grew on hardwood trees. “Take” meaning mushrooms and “Shii” the type of hardwood tree they thrived on, according to Alan Davidson. Today they are cultivated in farms that raise the mushrooms either indoors in sterile beds or outdoors on logs. The mushrooms I purchased were imported from China. They are superb in Chinese stir fried vegetable dishes or as part of a sweet and sour sauce for a whole fried fish. They also do well in more western style recipes such as sauteed mushrooms in olive oil with garlic that is using to top toasted french bread.
Prices today were P50 per 100 grams of Shiitake. Significantly more than the cost of white button mushrooms but you typically don’t need too much to perk up a dish. Stored properly, fresh shiitakes will last 5 days in the refrigerator.