Preparation and Serving Suggestions:
There is no need to wash this mushroom. Just brush lightly, slice and sauté in butter or oil. The intense taste of shiitake complements many meat dishes, omelets, and soups. Shiitakes are great marinated and then broiled or grilled. The stems can be fibrous, making them more suitable for stocks and soups than for sautés.
Shiitake has been revered in Asia for thousands of years as a food and medicine. There are records of its cultivation in Japan and China that go back more than 1000 years. It is native to the Far East where it grows on fallen broadleaf trees. Shiitake means 'shii mushroom' in Japanese; referring to the shii tree on which it most commonly grows in Japan. Some other common names are Golden Oak mushroom, Black Forest mushroom, and Oakwood mushroom. It has a classic mushroom shape with open white gills. Its texture is firm and slightly chewy.
Reported Health Benefits:
Shiitake is one of the most thoroughly researched and documented medicinal mushrooms. Not only do they have excellent nutritive value; they also are the source of at least two important components with proven pharmacological effects--LEM(Lentinula edodes mycelium extract) and Lentinin. These two components have demonstrated strong antitumor activity. Like many medicinal mushrooms, Shiitake acts by enhancing various immune system functions rather than attacking the tumor cells directly. Shiitake is used medically for any and all diseases involving depressed immune function including cancer, AIDS, environmental allergies, yeast infections, and frequent flu and colds. In addition, contains compounds effective in lowering cholesterol and treating high blood pressure.
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Yamamoto, Y., et al. 1997. Immunopotentiating activity of the water-soluble lignin rich fraction prepared from LEM--the extract of the solid culture medium of Lentinus edodes mycelia. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 61(11):1909-12