Before I came to Japan, I hated mushrooms. Big, weird-tasting white things that look like the last place they’re meant to be is on your plate. However, while I’m still not a fan of the mushrooms back in the UK, there are plenty of Japanese mushrooms I’ve grown to like.
When you first come to Japan, most people have no idea what anything is or how to use it. That’s why I decided to make a little guide to some of Japan’s most popular fungi.
In hot-pots, fried, in soups – this large mushroom with a solid texture is the boss when it comes to Japanese mushrooms. Don’t be afraid to serve this bad boy in thick slices to really get the taste. As with most mushrooms, it’s considered incredibly healthy, too.
Versatile, cheap, and found in pretty much every supersmarket across the country, Shimeji mushrooms should definitely be in your food. Shove some of these soft little fellas into a frying pan with some veggies and soy sauce for a quick and healthy meal.
Eryngii mushrooms go by many names and aren’t only limited to Asia. This fun guy has only recently been introduced to Japan but is growing ever more popular. Large with a good texture, the Eryngii (King Trumpet) mushroom contains vitamin D, niacin, and riboflavin.
…Fun guy, get it?
The poor man’s shrooms. Why? you can usually buy them for around the same price as a bag of moyashi (30 – 50 yen). Thin, white, and a great little budget mushroom to add to pretty much anything when you don’t have a decent variety of ingredients. They don’t have much of a taste but are an essential ingredient of hot-pots.
The truffle of Asian mushrooms. Fetching between $1000 – $2000 per pound, few of us have eaten this luxury old mucker. Just like with truffles, hunting for these scrubby-looking nuggets of gold isn’t to be taken lightly. It has a distinct spicy-aromatic odor and grows on the roots of trees. If you do get your hands on a matsutake, don’t wash them (only wipe them down) and prepare them in a way that preserves the aroma (e.g. steaming/wrapping them in tinfoil).